SB 1512 Transfer of Forest Lands

02/10/2020
VOTE: NO – Died In Committee
Status (overview) of bill: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2020R1/Measures/Overview/SB1512
Committee assigned to bill: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2020R1/Committees/SENR/Overview


This bill requires State Board of Forestry to identify acquired lands that have limited revenue-generation potential or have high-value recreational or conservation benefits and allows transfer to another state or federal agency, local government, or tribe with county approval.

Fiscal Responsibility
The measure requires the Board to obtain approval from the county where lands are located and from the governing authority of proposed receiving entity prior to transferring lands. All indication is that transfer of lands is permanent, where Washington’s model indicates lands remain under state ownership and properties are set for fee ownership transfer or long-term lease.

Limited Government
The Oregon Constitution directs the State Land Board, made up of the Governor, Treasurer, and Secretary of State, to “manage lands under its jurisdiction for the greatest benefit for the people in Oregon, consistent with the conservation and sound techniques of land management.” (Or. Const. art. VIII, sect. 5) In 2017, the Oregon Legislature authorized the State Land Board to identify and submit a list of state trust lands with limited performance potential as assets of the Common School Fund for transfer to another state or federal agency or tribe. (ORS 273.462 – 273.464)

The state of Washington has operated a state Trust Land Transfer Program since 1989. Under the program, they review and prioritize a list of transfer properties with other state agencies and then submits an informational package to the Board of Natural Resources and Governor’s office for submittal to the Legislature. The Legislature reviews the proposal, identifies a list of properties to transfer, and sets a funding level. Some properties are set for fee ownership transfer, others for a long-term lease. The DNR is responsible for carrying out the transfers within the biennium. Properties may not be transferred if they do not meet value expectations or for other reasons not known at the time of transfer approval.

SB 1512 does not provide all the steps that Washington takes to assure prudent land transfers. Instead, it authorizes the State Board of Forestry to identify lands that have limited revenue-generation potential or that provide high-value recreational or conservation benefits and transfer identified lands to another state or federal agency, local government, or tribe. The measure requires the Board to obtain approval from the county where lands are located but does not require a vote of the people in the county. and approval from the governing authority of proposed receiving entity prior to transferring lands.

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