2 Jun 2010, 8:17pm
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Forestry Department buys 43,000 acres for State Forest

BY RACHEL CHEESEMAN, Oregon Politico, June 2, 2010 [here]

GILCHRIST- The Oregon Department of Forestry dedicated a 43,000-acre tract of land in Klamath County as the Gilchrist State Forest on Tuesday.

This forest, the first state forest purchase in 70 years, will be the sister forest to the Sun Pass State Forest, also located in Klamath County.

According to Doug Decker, the project leader of the state forest division, the purchase will preserve the land as a working forest rather than have it subdivided, sold and potentially developed into small, low-density housing.

Rod Nichols, an information officer for the Oregon Department of Forestry, said the subdivision and sale of lands often limit public access to forests for recreational purposes and fragment the habitats of native species. In addition, the introduction of housing into these areas increases the risk of human-caused wildfires and makes the prevention of such fires more complex and costly.

The land acquired in the new acquisition was appraised at $23.5 million. The Oregon legislature appropriated $15 million towards the purchase, allowing Oregon to purchase the western two-thirds of the land. The land was purchased with a loan from an unidentified third party, which will be paid back with revenue from the Oregon lottery over time. The remaining cost was covered by The Conservation Fund, which will hold the title for the eastern third of the land until Oregon can pay the final $8.5 million.

This acquisition is intended to generate revenue by creating sustainable jobs in the timber industry for Klamath County.

“Communities that have traditionally depended on forest products as a major part of their income are in a depressed condition because of the way that markets have gone,” Nichols said. “We’re very concerned about maintaining forests and preventing them from being converted to other uses.” … [more]

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