New State Forest in Central Oregon

June 11, 2010

Ponderosa pine trees

Ponderosa Pine. Photo by Michael Lemmon/Flickr

Gilchrist, OR — Governor Ted Kulongoski joined today with community leaders, forestry and conservation officials and members of a long-established timber family to dedicate the Gilchrist State Forest, the first addition to Oregon’s state forest system in more than 60 years. The Oregon Board and Department of Forestry will manage the land to provide a broad range of benefits over the long term, including wildlife habitat, timber to provide jobs and revenue to support local government services, and public access for recreation.

“Forests are a part of Oregon’s identity and essential to Oregon’s economy and well-being,” Governor Kulongoski said. “Even during challenging times like these, we need to make investments in our state’s economic and environmental future, and that is what we are doing here today with the dedication of this new state forest.”

For much of the 20th century the land making up the new state forest was part of larger holdings owned by the Gilchrist Timber Company. The community of Gilchrist, near the site of Friday’s dedication, was the site of the company mill and home to many of its workers. The lands were harvested heavily and replanted in the early 1990s, after the Gilchrist Company sold them. The state purchased the land from Fidelity National Timber Resources Inc., which had owned it since 2006. Members of the Gilchrist family were among those on hand at Friday’s dedication and the Governor thanked the many partners involved in creating the new state forest.

“The Gilchrist lands have been treasured in this part of Oregon for decades,” Governor Kulongoski said. “Thanks to the support and vision of the community, the Board of Forestry, The Conservation Fund and others, we can celebrate the beginning a great new era for these forests.”

The state purchased the 43,000 acres, about 45 miles south of Bend, with $15 million in Lottery-backed bonds approved by the 2009 Legislature, with the Governor’s strong support. The purchase kept intact land that otherwise would likely have been sold in many smaller parcels, with lost opportunities for multi-use forest management. Fragmentation of large blocks of forestland is emerging as a major threat to private forestlands.

The Conservation Fund will purchase 25,000 acres adjacent to the new forest, with plans to retain them for a future purchase by the state. Both tracts will be managed as a single unit. The state’s last major forestland purchase was the Sun Pass State Forest, just south of Crater Lake National Park, acquired between 1943 and 1948.


Photo: Michael Lemmon/Flickr

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At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.