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Elliott will become OSU research forest

Oregon State University College of Forestry will spend the next year working with the Department of State Lands to transform the Elliott State Forest into a research forest, the State Land Board decided Tuesday.

OSU College of Forestry Interim Dean Anthony Davis told the board an Elliott State Research Forest could benefit the nation and even the world for the next 100 years.

The forest is large enough to provide a unique opportunity for scientists to develop new knowledge about how best to steward the land, including how to manage forests to address climate change, Davis said.

“We are in a climate crisis now, and we have to be doing everything in our power to inform forest conservation and management into the future, from mitigating the effects of devastating fires to protecting our water resources. Our forests are worthy of the dedication of our brightest minds, and they need continuing scientific discovery to sustain our forest ecosystems and our forest economies,” he said.

Before making its decision, the Land Board also heard suggestions about the forest’s future from representatives of Douglas and Coos Counties, the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, environmentalists and others.

Coos County Commissioner John Sweet said his county wants to work with Douglas County and a local tribe on a plan that would allow for forest management for cultural, recreational and economic benefits.

Sweet said Coos County does not have a lot of money, and purchasing the Elliott would be a “heavy lift.” It would issue bonds and bring in partners to help purchase the property, and it would have to harvest timber, he said.

“We must be able to harvest the forest at a level adequate to fully fund its management and to service debt necessary to acquire the (forest),” he said.

Sweet proposed permanently reserving 20,000 acres of the Elliott, with the remaining 60,000 acres harvested on a 120-year rotation. Less than 1 percent of the land would be harvested for timber each year, so about half the trees would be more than 80 years old at any given time. That plan would yield roughly 27.5 million board feet of timber annually worth about $11 million, he said.

Sweet said the county would welcome OSU researchers also using the forest as a laboratory.

Most of the Elliott lies within Coos County, with the rest in Douglas County. Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice spoke to the board briefly Tuesday, saying Douglas County would be interested in working with Coos County. He said Douglas County has similar interests and the same financial limitations as Coos County does.

He also said the forest could be used to create a pilot program for management on federal timberlands formerly owned by the Oregon & California Railroad.

Attorney Anthony Broadman, representing the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, told the board the Elliott is part of the land base that was stolen from local tribes, and that the Cow Creek Tribe has a long history of sustainable forest management. However, he said the tribe could not afford to purchase the forest without a partner.

Broadman said the Cow Creek tribe had spent significant time and resources attempting to find a solution to the problem of how to manage the Elliott, referring to an earlier proposal the tribe crafted with Lone Rock Timber Management Company to purchase and manage the land. The state voted in 2017 to sell the forest to the tribe and Lone Rock, but backed out later that year.

“The tribe is disappointed about the past, but it is here to look forward,” Broadman said.

While the tribe indicated it is not in a position to attempt to purchase the land, OSU officials indicated they would be interested in working with the Cow Creek Tribe and the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw.

Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Chief Warren Brainard said the tribes want to be a part of whatever management plan happens for the forest, and that their policy is to manage the land for the benefit of the next seven generations.

The board also heard from the nonprofit Christian group Raw Foundation, which proposed purchasing the forest for Christian campers but also offering access to the general public. It heard from environmentalists who encouraged forest conservation to sequester carbon and combat climate change. And it heard from former state representative Wayne Giesy, 98, of the Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project, who proposed that the Land Board retain ownership and continue managing the forest for the benefit of the Oregon Common School Fund.

It was the OSU plan that received the nod from the Land Board, whose members include Gov. Kate Brown, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson and Treasurer Tobias Read.

Read said he was excited about creating a research forest where scientists will study forest management and climate change.

“I think this is a really big opportunity for us as a state to answer some really big questions that will define who we are in decades to come,” he said.

Richardson said a partnership between OSU, the tribes and the counties would be a natural fit.

“In my opinion this would be best for the schools, for the economy and for the taxpayers,” he said.

Wish Upon a Star helped family through a trying time

On July 20, 2017, Andy Helmer, who was 14 at the time, was climbing a tree, when he fell 40 feet and broke his neck.

He survived, but was paralyzed from the shoulders down.

The accident would change the life of Andy and his family forever. He had to go through intense operations at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland to save his life.

One year later, J.D. Helmer, Andy’s father, credits Wish Upon A Star for helping to ease their incredible ordeal. Wish Upon A Star, a partnership between Brooke Communications and area businesses, has helped people in need during the holidays for the last 19 years.

The Helmers were one of the people chosen to receive a variety of gifts to help lessen the burden on the family.

“Wish Upon a Star was a huge help,” Helmer said.

The program helped with the wheelchair ramp in the backyard and did some other needed construction inside the house, Helmer said.

The family received an Amazon Alexa, so Andy could ask the voice-activated Amazon device to do certain things for him. They received a meat package from a local ranch and several other things that made life more bearable while they concentrated on Andy and getting him what he needed.

Recently, Andy’s health has been improving and the family has seen some very encouraging signs that has them excited.

“Oh, absolutely, (doctors) told us in the beginning that he would never get off of the ventilator and that he would have to breathe on that the rest of his life,” Helmer said. “Last Saturday marked three weeks that he’s been off the ventilator.”

As of Tuesday, Andy was expected to have his tracheostomy tube removed.

Not only that, but now Andy is starting to get movements in his legs, left arm, stomach and back.

The family is cautiously optimistic, but they are getting more hopeful every day.

They are encouraged by the progress their son is making and thankful to Wish Upon A Star, and everyone else who has helped.

A GoFundMe page was set up for Andy Helmer in the name of “Andy’s Medical Expenses” to help with medical bills that have piled up. As of Wednesday, the account had raised over $6,700.

Editor’s Note: Brooke Communications and The News-Review are owned by the same company, Lotus Media Group.

Roseburg man dies in crash of east of Sutherlin

A Roseburg man has died after allegedly crashing his garbage truck into a tree on Nonpareil Road east of Sutherlin.

The driver, 51-year-old Dennis Lee Roderick of Roseburg, was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Douglas County sheriff’s deputies said at about 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, emergency dispatchers received calls of a single-vehicle crash in the 17300 block of Nonpareil Road.

Emergency crews found a 1999 Volvo sanitation truck owned by Sutherlin Sanitary Service which had been traveling east that had left the roadway and crashed into a tree coming to rest on its side.

Roderick drove a garbage truck for Sutherlin Sanitary for about a year.

General Manager Grant Fahey said Wednesday that Roderick was a excellent employee.

“Great driver, great guy. He was a singer and drum player in a band and had an amazing voice. He could fill a room with his voice — he was amazing,” Fahey said. “He was an honest hard-working guy that went too soon.”

The crash is still under investigation. Anyone with information about the crash should contact the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office at 541-440-4471.

Oregon Department of Forestry via Flickr  

West Fork Millicoma River in the Elliott State Forest. The State Land Board accepted Oregon State University’s proposal to transform the Elliott into a research forest.

44-year-old Roseburg man arrested for attempting to meet teenage girl for sex

A Roseburg man was arrested over the weekend after allegedly agreeing to meet up with a 15-year-old girl for sex.

The man, 44-year-old Brian Edward Bias, was arrested by a Myrtle Creek police officer who was running a fake Facebook account used exclusively to catch people who are sexually preying on children, according to court documents.

The conversation between Bias and the teen began on Saturday and escalated quickly enough that Bias was arrested for attempting to meet with the teen the next day.

During the conversation, Bias learned that the girl he had reached out to was only a teenager.

“Wow, I’m a lot older,” he said. “Almost twice that.” But at 44, Bias would be almost three times the age of the girl.

Despite the age gap, the conversation between the two quickly turned flirtatious, according to court documents.

“Wish u had a few years on ya,” Bias said. “I’d be picking you up now.”

Bias even expressed that he had a friend who was dating a woman 20 years his junior, but that since the teen wasn’t even 18, Bias could really get in trouble.

Nevertheless, Bias continued sending the teen kissy face emojis, a video clip of the famous Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene and eventually began talking about hugging, kissing and touching the girl.

Bias then asked the teen if she liked oral sex and sex toys. The two then made plans to meet up in person the next day.

Soon afterward, Bias sent the teen video clips of pornographic material, according to court documents.

The next day, when Bias went to meet with the teen, he was instead greeted by a police officer.

Bias was arrested on suspicion of first- and second-degree online sexual corruption of a child, luring a minor, and methamphetamine possession after police located a glass pipe that allegedly tested positive for meth. He was later transported to the Douglas County Jail.