Oregon Advocates for
School Trust Lands (OASTL)

Working to ensure trust lands remain an endowment for today's and future generations of schoolchildren as intended since the founding of our country.

I was involved in the proposed sale of the Elliott State Forest a few years ago and could not believe the low value of the appraisal. ... I suggest the establishment of the low value was politically motivated to allow for a cheaper decoupling of the common school fund’s primary responsibility.
  -- Bill Lansing, President and CEO, retired, Menasha Forest Products Corporation

OASTL, or Oregon Advocates for School Trust Lands, is a non-profit organization to promote the effective and prudent management of Oregon’s School Trust Lands and Common School Fund for the financial support of common schools.

OASTL is the Oregon affiliate of Advocates for School Trust Lands, a national nonprofit organization founded in Utah in 1999. OASTL wants to follow the national organization's mission statement:

Advocates for School Trust Lands' Mission

School trust lands were granted to states at the time of statehood for the sole purpose of generating revenue in perpetuity for public education. Advocates for School Trust Lands helps states honor their historic commitment to optimize revenues from school trust lands and manage their permanent funds as an ever-growing, sustainable source of education funding.

Pages in this Site

We worked hard to make this website informative and entertaining. Because there is a lot to learn, we broke the website into these pages.

The national nonprofit, Advocates for School Trust Lands, produced this 12-minute film. It explains about the original grants of land made to the states as they entered the Union, the associated permanent funds and how the school trusts are making a difference for school children. 

Starring roles include:

Please consider joining OASTL ... we will work to make sure Oregon's schoolchildren receive full value from the Common School Fund and Oregon's School Trust Lands. In particular, this means that if Oregon wants to sell the Elliott State Forest from  the School Trust Lands in order to create a research forest, the sale should be  based on Market Value  (which is at least $1 billion), not for a much lower "investment value."
-- Dave Sullivan, emeritus Professor of Business, OSU

I cannot think of a better example of "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" than the OSU Research Plan. It permanently locks up most of the Elliott State Forest, will grow and store unsustainable amounts of carbon, and then likely burn in a massive firestorm that will rapidly release all the carbon, kill thousands of resident wildlife -- including endangered species -- and greatly damage local communities.
--Bob Zybach, PhD, OSU Environmental Sciences


As a condition of statehood, Oregon accepted millions of acres of federal land and committed to manage these lands for the benefit of public schools. This jointly-agreed-to-contract created a State Land Trust to be managed by a State Land Board with three Trustees: the governor, secretary of state, and treasurer.

In 1930, State Land Trust parcels scattered around the Oregon were swapped with the federal government to create the Elliott State Forest, a 90,000-acre block of recently burnt timberland near Coos Bay, with the intent of creating a permanent forest endowment for Oregon’s schoolchildren. 

The Elliott State Forest became Oregon’s first state forest and was created specifically for Oregon’s K-12 schools. These lands were intended to provide a permanent endowment for future generations of Oregon's schoolchildren.

For many decades, this arrangement worked well and generated more than $700 million dollars for Oregon schools along with hundreds of good paying jobs for rural Oregon workers. But in 2017, the State Land Board halted all timber sales, so the Elliott began losing money each year. Since then the State Land Board has tried various ways to avoid harvesting trees on the Elliott State Forest, and the latest plan involves selling the Elliott State Forest from the School Trust Lands to the Elliott State Research Forest Authority, and asking Oregon State University to manage it as a research forest. 

On December 13, 2022, the State Land Board voted to sell the Elliott State Forest from Oregon's School Trust Lands  based in large part on an "investment value" appraisal of $99.600,000. This sale -- if it is not reversed by a court of law -- would be a self-dealing transaction because Oregon would be selling the forest to itself. OASTL believes that if the Elliott State Forest is sold, the sale should be based on the forest's fair market value -- which is estimated to be between $1.0 and $1.2 billion -- not for an arbitrarily reduced "investment value" appraisal.  

State Land Board Testimony Letter.pdf

This letter, signed by Margaret Bird who co-founded the national nonprofit, Advocates for School Trust Lands, was submitted to the State Land Board before the Board voted to sell the Elliott State forest from the School Trust Lands.  It explains why the Board's actions have violated their duties as Trustees for Oregon's schoolchildren. This self-dealing transaction robs our public schools of an important source of revenue by paying much less than the Elliott State Forest is worth on the open market.