Governor Mark O. Hatfield's Administration

Special Message, 1961


Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Fifty-first Legislative Assembly:

On the day which marks the anniversary of statehood for Oregon, I can think of no more appropriate manner to observe this occasion than sending to you a special message of what is believed to be great significance to the entire state.

Those of us who have been concerned about the seasonality of employment in Oregon, the need for diversification both from the standpoint of the calendar and the geography of our state, the enormous potential of space age, the realization of new job opportunities for our people in short the progress of Oregon are heartened by the prospects now on the horizon.

I strongly urge you to examine fully what is herein proposed and to give legislative guidance so that Oregon will move with wisdom and foresight toward the realization of our potential for greatness.

Transmitted herewith is a draft of proposed legislation needed to implement the establishment of the Space Age Industrial Park at Boardman and the secure for it a leading space technology firm as an industrial tenant.

So that you may have full information for proper consideration this proposal, I am also sending you copies of the proposed lease* submitted by the Boeing Airplane Company, together with a draft of proposed legislation.

The proposed leasing of the park represents the fruits of more than a year of intensive effort by the Department of Planning and Development, other state agencies, departments and agencies of the Federal government, members of the congress, and an umber of Oregon citizens who gave unstintingly of their time and talents to assist in phases of this complex project. To them, each and every one, the citizens of Oregon.

A short review of the phases of the project and its development may assist in bringing into focus the need for legislative action.

First, the acquisition of the Boardman Bombing Range.

Second, the acquisition of adjacent lands needed to complete the park.

Third, obtaining a tenant.


The Boardman Bombing Range consists of 96,000 acres in Morrow County, Oregon. It is currently used by the United States Navy for practice bombing purposes. The navy has stated it expects to have a requirement for a bombing range indefinitely.

Decision to acquire the Boardman range for the state was prompted by a determination that it possessed many unique advantages as a site for space technology industries, and that its use for such purposes would convert a large acreage presently of little or no economic value to the state into a major economic asset.

In discussions with members of our Congressional delegation, the Defense and Navy Departments and others, it was determined that special Congressional authorization would be needed for state acquisition of the Boardman range. Such authorization was obtained in provisions of Public Law 86-500, enacted by the Eighty-sixth Congress, which authorizes the Secretary of the Navy to transfer title to the State of Oregon when the state meets two conditions. The first condition is that the state the state provide the Navy with an acceptable substitute practice bombing facility. The Second is that the state pay the difference, if any, between the fair market value of the Boardman lands and the lands accepted by the Navy in exchange.

Of the sites for a substitute facility offered by the State Land Board, the Navy has selected one in the Wagontire area of Lake County as most suitable for its use. The State Land Board has filed an application to acquire this site of approximately 96,000 acres of public domain land, and has offered in exchange 65,000 acres of state-owned lands in Lake County. Discussions have been yield on these procedures with Lake County public officials, rangers and others.

Completing the land exchanges and fulfilling the obligations involved in mobbing the Navy comprise a major problem which, I believe, calls for legislative direction and ratification as well as an appropriation of state funds. Unfortunately, exact monetary requirements cannot be predicted at this time. The monetary difference, if any, in the land values appraisals are completed. This difference can range from nothing up to as much as $600,000. Also, there is the cost of providing facilities on the Wagontire site and the cost of moving the Navy. It appears now that these costs will range between $250,000 and $400,000 or possibly $500,000. The Boeing Company has agreed to reimburse the state for the Navy move up to a maximum of $250,000 over the next five years. It will be necessary, however, for the state to expend this money now. WE cannot acquire title to the Boardman site and make the Boeing lease operative until the Navy is moved.

It is possible for the state to acquire the Boardman site by exchange or by outright purchase from the Federal Government. Present federal law, however, (P.L. 86-500) authorizes only an exchange. A purchase would require another special act of Congress, which might not be accomplished while you are still in legislative session. Also, there still would be the problem and cost of moving the Navy to a new site which might also have to be purchased, unless it was federal land that could be made available to the Navy Department. Because of these problems, I believe it best to continue with the plan of acquiring the site by an exchange.


The second phase of this project is the acquisition of adjacent private and public domain lands to connect the Boardman range with the Columbia River and thus complete our Space Age Industrial Park. THE State Land Board has filed application with the Bureau of Land Management to acquire some 3,800 acres of public domain lands in the Boardman Area, and has offered in exchange state-owned lands of equal value in the southwestern part of the state.

Also, an option was taken on some 7,000 acres of privately owned lands to be acquired on an exchange basis. Negotiations for an extension of this option are in progress.


Work on the third phase of the project --- acquiring a tenant --- has been going on continuously for more than a year, and simultaneously with the land acquisition phases. To carry this out successfully, we became acquainted with the space technology industry, its problems, requirements for facilities and probable future direction. We became acquainted wit he major companies in this new industry. Staff members on the Department of Planning and Development attended classified briefings of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and consulted with top officials in NASA, the Air Force, Navy and other agencies.

A detailed prospectus and site report was prepared, along with a presentation kit consisting of 16 maps, charts and other exhibits. (These are available to the presiding officers of this Legislature and tot he Committee or Committees they designate.) Discussions on possible use of the site were held with nine companies. The potential availability of the site was well known throughout the industry. Three companies inspected the site, and discussions reached the active negotiation stage with two firms.

With one of these two firms --- the Boeing Airplane Company --- we have reached agreement on the terms for their occupancy of the site. We cannot expect the company to declare its intentions for the precise use of this property until such time as negotiations are consummated. May I direct especially you attention to the safeguards which are written into the proposal in order that actual development is likely to take place within a reasonable amount of time. I should like to caution against taking a position that might be interpreted as an effort to stampede the Company into hasty action, an effort that could thwart patience with and interest in Oregon. To execute this lease, it is necessary that at agency of the state be given clear authority to acquire the land, perfect the title and execute a lease.


Another problem that should be examined arises because the State Land Board is the custodian of the common school fund which with its revenues, must be applied exclusively to the support of our schools. The Board is placed in a unique position as trustee of this irreducible fund.

However, the opportunity that now presents itself to us is of a much broader nature and effect than the school fund. In our efforts to protect and perpetuate that valuable fund, we must not lose sight of the scope, potential or the state-wide economic impact of the industrial park.


The additional and separate duty to negotiate and manage the Boeing lease of Boardman can be assigned by you to the State Land Board without jeopardy to the common school fund. ON the other hand you might want to consider the possibility of manning some other state agency to this task, or perhaps a special board could be created to administer this one project as its sole or principal duty.

It is my recommendation that the Legislature appropriate the money necessary to accomplish this important milestone in Oregon’s growth and that it give the State Land Board specific authority to acquire the draft of such legislation is enclosed with this message.

THE $900,000 requested covers these costs:

$400,000 for possible difference in the fair market value of the lands to be exchanged;

`$400,000 for facilities on the Wagontire site and for moving the Navy; and

$100,000 for appraisals, engineering studies, other expenses and contingencies.

Only amount actually required will be expended. It is my conviction that even if this full amount or more is needed it will be returned to the people of Oregon many times over in new jobs, payrolls, taxable wealth, and economic growth.

A draft of a bill is also enclosed which would give the Land Board authority to execute a lease for land not yet under state ownership. This will permit the immediate execution of a binding lease, conditioned, of course, upon the final acquisition of clear title to the land.

Because of the need for such specific authority, the need for adequate funds to acquire the land and move the Navy, and the need to secure general ratification of the acquisition of the site and its leasing for industrial purposes, I am sending the Assembly this message, the proposed legislation and the proposed lease.

When a state enters the highly competitive arena of active, industry seeking it is inevitable that speculation, rumor, hearsay, and misunderstanding will result. Across the country there are several thousand development committees, chambers of commerce, aggressive state agencies, with portfolio in hand, ballyhoo in brief, eager to offer opportunities to industry. In this setting, then, two points of conclusions seem worthy of mention:

First, we do not subscribe to the proposition that a state need dream up fantastic, unrealistic, “gimmicks” of a gift nature to attract industry; but neither do we look at industry to pick up a tax tab. We welcome industry, both the new neighbor and the expansion of existing companies as full-fledged citizens of the state community.

Second, within the competitive business world, some of the initial discussions just be of a confidential nature. In the preliminary stages the matter is one of private business. But once a government has a proposition under active consideration it then has a responsibility to make public that proposal in keeping with the philosophy of a people’s right to know. The public press has followed the progress of these negotiations from the time of the basic idea, through Congress, In Land Board discussions a recently as last week, and now it shares with you the distribution of information presented in this message and its attachments. Thus the citizens of this state, though their press and through you as their elected representatives, are given a proposal, some alternatives, full disclosure of lease provisions, and an opportunity with clear implications of immeasurable meaning for decades.

May you be given t he incentive, the wisdom, and the understanding to arrive at appropriate decisions.

Respectfully Submitted,

Mark O, Hatfield


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