Oregon State is expanding its forests to allow logging to increase revenue for its farmers and ranchers, with the first 2,500 acres set to open next week.
The land will allow logging companies to harvest trees and sell them to businesses, such as hotels and restaurants, said Lisa Rinaldi, the university’s forestry department manager.
The land is the first of its kind in the country and comes amid the national debate about whether logging should be allowed on public lands.
Oregon State University President Steve Lavin said the land would help the university meet its goal of becoming a forestry-rich state.
Lavin said a few years ago the university bought timber from a company that had been cutting down trees on a property on the east side of the park and would lease the land for timber sales.
It was a great idea, he said.
The forest will be in the state’s second largest forest, behind the state capital, Eugene.
It covers about 1.4 million acres and includes the Sequoias National and Botanical Gardens.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon Parks and Recreation are leading the effort to make the land open to logging.
It is expected to take about six months to complete.
The university plans to use the land to grow trees for timber and commercial use, said Rinaldti, who said the university expects the land will attract businesses to the region and create jobs.
The first harvest will be the university and the Oregon Agriculture Department, she said.
Forest managers will have to negotiate with the timber companies to sell the timber on the first sale.
They will also have to pay to have trees harvested, Rinaldici said.