Department of State Lands Records Guide

Agency History - 1960-Present

The 1960s also witnessed a series of major changes in the administration and policy of the board. In 1963, all state forest lands were placed under the administration of the Forestry Department (OL 1963, Ch. 475). Four years later, legislation abolished the board’s Veterans Welfare Department and changed the Clerk of the Board to Director of the State Land Board (OL 1967, Ch. 421). Furthermore, the Legislative Assembly created the Division of State Lands, which transferred all of the responsibilities and duties of the board to DSL, except those of a general policy making and review nature (OL 1967, Ch. 616). DSL became the operating staff of the State Land Board. Some procedures and duties were revised or created, and all of the board’s records were given to DSL.

The 1967 Legislative Assembly also enacted Oregon’s first removal-fill law. That enactment arose from the legislature’s concern that the unregulated removal of material from state waters would adversely affect the state’s ability to conserve, protect and put the state’s water resources to the best use, and would create hazards to public health, safety and welfare (OL 1967, Ch. 567). The legislature sought to centralize authority in DSL’s director to implement control of the removal and filling of material within the beds and banks of the state’s waters. Filling of material was added to the statute in 1971.

Voters in 1968 finally deleted the board’s old name from the Constitution and replaced it with the State Land Board (Article VIII, Section 5). Its mission was modified to stress environmental management of lands as an investment, rather than to sell and reinvest the proceeds. The amendment to the Constitution made long-term resource conservation a major emphasis of the State Land Board and DSL.

The Legislative Assembly defined DSL’s role in 1969 by passing a group of new laws. These included abolishing the Swamp and Overflow Land Reclamation Fund (Ch. 594), passing a new escheats law (Ch. 591), and creating the Advisory Committee to the State Land Board (HJR 40). The latter’s work continued under the Natural Area Preserves Advisory Committee established in 1973 (SJR 4).
Throughout the 1970s, legislation was passed on waterways and land use. In 1974, geothermal resources were included with other valuable minerals requiring a permit for exploitation (OL 1974 SS, Ch. 51). The funds from the leases issued by DSL were deposited in the Common School Fund. Moreover, the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, a 4,800-acre reserve along the Coos Bay Estuary at Charleston, was established in 1974 and later placed under DSL’s responsibility as part of a cooperative agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (OL 1977, Ch. 496).The estuary was the first reserve in the nation created in response to the federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972.

Three years later, permits for archaeological excavation on state-owned property were more clearly defined (OL 1977, Ch. 397). The amended law prevented the excavation and removal of items on lands designated as having historical significance. In 1979, the Natural Heritage Advisory Council (successor to the Natural Area Preserves) was placed under DSL’s administration (OL 1979, Ch. 711). The advisory council was comprised of scientists and citizens appointed by the Governor and ex-officio state employees from various agencies. The council selected ecological, geological, and biological sites in the state worthy of recognition, protection, and preservation.

In the late 1980s, the Constitution was amended to provide greater flexibility to the Land Board in managing the Common School Fund and ultimately increasing the fund’s contribution to education in Oregon. Additionally, comprehensive legislation was enacted that enlarged the division’s role in protecting and managing wetlands (OL 1989, Ch. 837). It was determined that wetlands provided a natural means of storm damage protection and essential breeding grounds for several species of fish and wildlife. As a result, the state required the development of a statewide wetland inventory, coordinated land use notices with local governments, and a wetland conservation planning program, which is housed at DSL.

New regulatory responsibilities were added under the Removal-Fill Law in 1993, when the legislature required DSL to provide additional protection to certain salmon habitats and set requirements for review and approval for alterations within Oregon’s designated scenic waterways. During that same year, administrative responsibility for the Medical/Dental/ Veterinary Fund was transferred to Oregon Health Sciences University. In 1995, the responsibility for the J.T. Apperson Student Loan Fund was transferred to Oregon State University, and the responsibility for the Oregon Rural and Rehabilitation Loan Fund was given to the Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services. DSL still retains oversight responsibility for the Medical/Dental/Veterinary Fund, as well as for three trust funds: the University of Oregon, Oregon State University and the Burbank Trust Fund.

After several years of development and planning, DSL produced an Asset Management Plan in August 1995 and replaced it in 2006. The plan, a comprehensive tool for land and resource management for a ten-year period, included a land classification program and strategies for management, conservation, revenue, enhancement, investment and disposal. The plan categorized state lands and resources as:

Dot Forest Lands- approximately 106,496 acres; most are managed under contract by the Oregon Department of Forestry.
Dot Rangelands- approximately 626,742 acres; about 98 percent are leased out.
Dot Agricultural Lands- approximately 5,175 acres.
Dot Industrial, Residential and Commercial Lands- approximately 6,292 acres.
Dot Special Stewardship Lands- approximately 38,816 acres; these lands are managed to ensure the protection of scenic, natural resource, cultural, educational or recreation values.
Dot Waterways- approximately 800,000 acres of both submerged and submersible lands.
Dot Mineral and Energy Resources- approximately 753,000 acres; the department is responsible for the management, leasing, and sale of state-owned mineral rights on approximately three million acres throughout Oregon, on both the lands managed by the department and lands held by other state agencies.

In 2003, the division was renamed the Department of State Lands and was authorized to create a volunteer program to assist with the agency’s functions and maintenance of state lands (OL 2003, Ch. 253). Three years later the department was reorganized to facilitate operations and focus on revenue generation for the Common School Fund.

Delta On to current organization

State Archives • 800 Summer St. NE • Salem, OR 97310

Phone: 503-373-0701 • Fax: 503-378-4118 • reference.archives@state.or.us