A brief history of Skyline Forest:
1988: Crown Pacific acquires much of the land now known as Skyline Forest. Under Crown Pacific, the land was managed for timber as the Bull Springs Tree Farm.
1994-2000: Crown Pacific undertakes a large land exchange with the US Forest Service, involving a total of more than 70,000 acres, including the consolidation of the Bull Springs Tree Farm.
2000: In a settlement of litigation between Crown Pacific and several environmental groups, the litigants ask the Land Trust to hold a 3,045 acre conservation easement within the Gilchrist Tree Farm. This easement becomes the Hopkins-Young Special Management Area.
2001-2003: Crown Pacific sells off several large blocks of the Bull Springs Tree Farm adjacent to Shevlin Park, comprising roughly 3,500 acres. Several of these properties are now developed.
June 2003: Crown Pacific Limited Partners files for bankruptcy after defaulting on $500 million in secured debt.
August 2004: The Deschutes Land Trust begins working with former White House forestry advisor, Tom Tuchmann of US Forest Capital, to assess the feasibility of the Land Trust's acquisition of portions of the old Crown Pacific timberlands, particularly the Bull Springs Tree Farm.
December 2004: Crown Pacific LP is liquidated by the Bankruptcy Court and its assets of roughly 524,000 acres of commercial timberland in Oregon and Washington is transferred to its secured creditors which set up a holding company called Cascade Timberlands LLC to receive and hold the land. Olympic Resource Management (ORM) is retained to manage the land.
March 2005: The Land Trust testifies at the invitation of State Representative Chuck Burley (R-Bend) and State Senator Ben Westlund (D-Tumalo), along with Tom Tuchmann and John Shelk of Ochoco Lumber, in support of the Community Forest Authority Act. The Community Forest Authority Act is designed to allow community non-profits to partner with Oregon counties to issue revenue bonds to fund the purchase of working timberlands.
June 2005: With the Bull Springs Tree Farm as the poster child, the Oregon legislature enacts and Governor Kulongoski signs the Community Forest Authority Bill. (HB2729).
July 2005: The Deschutes Land Trust recasts the Bull Springs Tree Farm as Skyline Community Forest and publicly announces its intentions to focus on acquiring and conserving Skyline Forest. The Land Trust’s vision is to conserve Bend and Sisters' backyard forest for jobs, wildlife, scenic views, education and recreation.
October 2005: ORM, as manager of the lands held by Cascade Timberlands, advises the Land Trust that they will be auctioning all of the former Crown Pacific lands. The Land Trust begins developing a strategy to bid for 33,000 acre Skyline Forest and possibly the 140,000 acre Gilchrist Tree Farm. Seeking a partnership, the Land Trust begins conversations with the Oregon Department of Forestry concerning their interest in the Gilchrist Tree Farm as a possible new State Forest.
December 2005: Responding to a petition from 2,600 citizens, the Deschutes County Commissioners vote unanimously to create the country’s first Community Forest Authority (CFA) in anticipation of a community bid to purchase Skyline Forest. Read more about CFA.
May 2006: Fidelity National Financial assumes controlling interest of Cascade Timberlands, owner of Skyline Forest. Fidelity contacts the Land Trust to advise that the auction of the properties will be postponed indefinitely and that they would like to pursue a conservation transaction.
July 2006: First meeting of the Community Forest Authority is held in Bend. The Land Trust and Fidelity National Financial begin ongoing discussions regarding Skyline, the Gilchrist Tree Farm and Mazama Tree Farm.
March 2007: The Land Trust obtains a Letter Of Intent from Cascade Timberlands/Fidelity National Financial, committing Fidelity to work with the Land Trust and the community to explore conservation opportunities for Skyline Forest. At the request of the Land Trust, Representative Chuck Burley introduces legislation to re-enroll Oregon in the Federal Forest Legacy Program, making Skyline Forest eligible for federal funding.
June 2007: Governor Ted Kulongoski signs HB2468, Representative Chuck Burley’s Forest Legacy Bill into law.
March 2008: The Land Trust begins working with the Pacific Northwest Research Station--USDA Forest Service, with input from the Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Fidelity to independently assess the threats to Skyline Forest and Gilchrist Tree Farm and the ecological and social impacts of development.
July 2008: The Land Trust works with Fidelity, The Conservation Fund, and various state agencies to explore possible transactions to conserve Skyline and the Gilchrist Tree Farm.
March 2009: Representatives Brian Clem and Judy Steigler introduce legislation (HB2228) to conserve 31,800 acres of the Skyline Forest and 34,700 acres of the Gilchrist Tree Farm after the Land Trust, Central Oregon Landwatch, and Fidelity National Financial reach an agreement.
May 2009: The USDA’s Forest Legacy Program awards the Land Trust a $1.5 million grant to support the acquisition and protection of Skyline Forest as a working community forest. During the same month, the Pacific Northwest Research Station releases its independent analysis of the threat of development and ecological and economic impacts on Skyline Forest.
June 2009: HB2228 passes the Oregon legislature providing a framework for the Deschutes Land Trust to conserve Skyline Forest. Under the legislation, Fidelity National Financial, owner of Skyline Forest, is permitted to develop a small portion of Skyline Forest if they sell the remainder of Skyline and portions of the Gilchrist Tree Farm to the Land Trust at timber value. Fidelity has up to five years to act on the legislation. (Learn more about the 2009 legislation.)
October 2009: With permission from Fidelity National Financial, the Land Trust launches public tours of Skyline Forest to raise community awareness of Skyline's recreational and ecological importance.
February 2010: The Oregon Department of Forestry acquires 43,000 of timberland from Fidelity National Timber through a partnership with the Conservation Fund. The Gilchrist State Forest is the first new State Forest in more than 60 years.
April 2010: The USDA’s Forest Legacy Program awards the Land Trust a second grant for $2.5 million to support the acquisition and protection of Skyline Forest as a working community forest.
June 2010: Governor Kulongoski and the Gilchrist family dedicate the new Gilchrist State Forest.
September 2010: The Land Trust and Conservation Alliance stage a community work party, with the support of Fidelity, on Skyline Forest to reroute trails, thin encroaching juniper, and build support for the eventual acquisition of Skyline Forest by the Land Trust.
2012: The Land Trust and partner, The Conservation Fund, tendered offers to Fidelity National Timber for the purchase of Skyline Forest. All offers were declined as the landowner explores its options for selling their entire portfolio of Central Oregon timberlands in a single transaction.
2015: Fidelity National Financial sells Skyline Forest and all their Central Oregon holdings to Whitefish Cascade Forest Resources, LLC.
Currently: The Land Trust continues to work to develop a conservation solution for Skyline Forest.
Interested in helping to conserve Skyline Forest? Write letters to the editor, tell your friends and neighbors, make sure people know about this important project.