The Elliott State Forest took a big step recently on its way to becoming the country’s largest research forest, by finding a site for its headquarters.
Oregon lawmakers established the 82,000-acre Elliott State Research Forest outside of Reedsport in 2022. Last week, the Department of State Lands finalized the transfer of the former Shutter Creek Correctional Facility northwest of the forest, so it can become the research headquarters.
State Lands spokesperson Ali Ryan Hansen said U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden secured $4 million for site renovations and rehabilitation in Congress’s fiscal year 2023 omnibus appropriations package.
Work still needs to be done to convert the facility.
“There’s an early vision for what the site could look like,” Hansen said, “and that is to include laboratory space, classroom spaces, dormitories and offices, as well as housing partnerships potentially with tribes and other local entities.”
Ryan Hansen said the Elliott Forest is on traditional land of both the Coos and Lower Umpqua peoples. She said there’s potential to co-steward the forest and bring tribal knowledge to the research. She added researchers hope the forest can help the world better understand forestry’s potential for addressing climate change and contributing to sustainable forest products. Its unprecedented scale means research can be done over many acres, and the fact it’s public land means research can be done over many years.
The Elliott State Research Forest will be officially created on Jan. 1, 2024. Ryan Hansen said before the end of the year, the state and Oregon State University need to submit a habitat conservation plan to federal agencies, approve a forest management plan and approve participation by the OSU board of trustees.