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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Land Board Ponders Future Of Elliott Forest

A large state-owned forest in Oregon might end up in new hands.

The State Land Board Tuesday endorsed a proposal to transfer ownership of the Elliott State Forest. But it's not clear who the new owners would be.

The southwest Oregon forest is supposed to be managed to bring in as much money as possible. And that money is supposed to go to public schools.

But the forest is actually losing money in the wake of restrictions on logging. The State Land Board ditched a plan to sell the forest to private timber companies. Now, members are backing a proposal to find new public owners…ones who wouldn't be bound by law to maximize revenue for schools.

Some environmental groups are pleased with the shift.

"It's time to modernize the system where we don't pit clear-cutting our old growth forests with critical school funding,” said Cascadia Wildlands’s Josh Laughlin.

The new owners would still be bound by laws meant to protect endangered species of birds and salmon.