A Legal Analysis of Oregon’s Trust Obligations in Managing the Elliott State Forest

To address school funding concerns, the federal government granted lands to states upon statehood to fund schools. This land grant created a trust, imposing obligations on trustees, who are the members of the State Land Board. In Oregon, the Elliott State Forest comprises a large portion of trust lands. The Forest also provides habitat various species listed under the Endangered Species Act. The ESA, as a federal law of general application, applies to trust lands. Under the ESA, logging on the Elliott State Forest, a significant source of income to the trust fund, has all but ceased. By virtue of its status as trust land, the trustee must care for and manage the trust and making the property productive and acting with loyalty to beneficiaries. Under Board management, the Forest lost three million dollars in 2013. Moving forward, the Board must comply with its obligations.

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