by: PHOTO COURTESY OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY - Gilchrist State Forest  The state of Oregon will add 29,000 acres of land to the Gilchrist State Forest south of Bend, after the Oregon Board of Forestry approved the $10 million purchase on Wednesday, March 5.

The purchase will be accomplished over the next two years with money provided by the federal Forest Legacy Program. Gilchrist became the state’s sixth state forest in 2010 — and first new one in more than 60 years. The additions will bring the state forest up to 72,200 acres.

State forests are operated partly to make money via timber-cutting, and Gilchrist State Forest has already provided $300,000 to cash-strapped Klamath County, with more funds now projected.

The forest lands were once owned by the Gilchrist Timber Co. When there were ownership changes, state officials feared the land would be fragmented and less valuable for timber growing.

"Our management activity there in the last several years has made these young forests more fire-safe and more resilient — while providing a revenue stream for Klamath County — and has put them on a pathway back to being the ponderosa pine gem of Central Oregon that they were under the Gilchrist family,” says Doug Decker, Oregon state forester.

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