Oregon News

Shutter Creek Correctional Facility to be converted to Elliott State Forest Oregon Forestry Academy

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In 2017, after Oregonians soundly rejected plans for selling it off, the State Land Board decided to convert the 82,000-acre Elliott State Forest to a research forest. After the Shutter Creek Correctional Facility five miles west of the forest was closed in 2021, Oregon Department of State Lands acquired the facility for conversion to the new research forest’s headquarters. DSL has received a federal grant of $4 million towards the estimated $38 million cost of the remodel.
A 2022 Resolution adopted by Oregon State Grange calls for creating an Oregon Forestry Academy at Shutter Creek alongside the research forest “to provide forest-related educational and research opportunities for school-aged children,” likely starting with summer programs eligible for funding like the $30 million for summer schools the legislature passed this week. Student educational programs would include, besides training in traditional forestry skills, the study of the forest carbon cycle very appropriate to Oregon’s southern Coast Range forests, which are considered one of the densest natural carbon storehouses on the planet.
Estimating the potential value of carbon offsets from just 30,000 acres of the Elliott’s oldest stands (averaging 50,000+ board feet of timber/acre), at the conversion ratio for board feet/CO2 of five tons CO2 for every thousand board feet of cruised timber- at today’s carbon offset value of around $30/ton of CO2-  could reach $250 million in up-front revenue from carbon offset sales alone, slightly  more  than the $221 million the state paid the Common School Fund for the entire forest last year. One thousand board feet of timber growth/acre/year adds another $4.5 million in ongoing annual revenue from carbon offset sales- enough to cover basic forest operating expenses like road maintenance, fire protection and law enforcement patrols.
 The Oregon State Grange sees this new educational facility for Oregon schoolchildren contributing to the revitalization of local forest communities and providing excellent employment opportunities for students with training in applying cutting-edge forest management skills in carbon- and ecological forestry such as an Oregon Forestry Academy could provide.

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