The Deschutes Land Trust has been working since 2005 to purchase the 33,000 acre former Bull Springs Tree Farm and protect it from subdivision and development. The roughly 50 sq. mile block of forest serves as the scenic backdrop for most of Central Oregon and with its proximity and numerous recreational uses constitutes Bend’s backyard. Skyline Forest is currently owned by Fidelity National Timber Resources.
The Forest Legacy Program uses a competitive process to strategically select projects from across the country which provide the highest ecological and community values. Projects that protect air and water quality provide recreational opportunities, protect wildlife habitat, and provide forest products and resource-based jobs receive strong consideration.
This is the 2nd Forest Legacy grant awarded to the Deschutes Land Trust, as they work to assemble the funding for an eventual purchase of Skyline Forest. The two Forest Legacy grants total $4 million and will complement the private fundraising and Community Forest Authority bonds that the Land Trust plans to pursue. “The size and complexity of the Skyline Forest project is unique and it will undoubtedly be several years before we complete the acquisition. However, our remarkable legislative successes have set the stage for Skyline’s acquisition and so long as the community stays engaged, I’m confident that we’ll successfully acquire Skyline Forest for the community,” noted Brad Chalfant, Executive Director for the Deschutes Land Trust.
As a result of state legislation in 2009, Skyline Forest was designated as a pilot project to allow the landowner to shift the existing development rights and concentrate them in a small corner of the property where the landowner can develop a subdivision, but must in turn sell the balance of the forest to the Land Trust at a timber, rather than subdivision price. “The 2009 Oregon legislation finally gave us a financially sound transaction, though the current recession has slowed the landowner’s development plans. The Forest Legacy grants help us build the funding and momentum for Skyline as Central Oregon’s economy slowly recovers,” added Chalfant.
To help the public better understand the significance of the Skyline Forest project and experience the forest first hand, the Land Trust will conduct a series of tours this spring through the fall and invites the public to visit the Land Trust website for the latest tour schedule.
The Deschutes Land Trust conserves land for wildlife, scenic views, and local communities. As Central Oregon’s only nationally accredited and locally-based land trust, the Deschutes Land Trust has protected more than 7,700 acres in since 1995. For more on information on Deschutes Land Trust, contact us at (541) 330-0017.