Acquisition of McDonald-Dunn Forests

Dean PeavyDean George Peavy and T.J Starker were the driving force behind the acquisition of the lands that became McDonald Forest, with Peavy managing the donations and Starker locating and purchasing parcels. The first piece was purchased in 1926 with contributions from individuals and the Oregon Agricultural College.

The benefactress in their mission was Mary McDonald. Mrs. McDonald was a very wealthy businesswoman whose late husband had built up large holdings of timberland in Northern California and Southern Oregon. In 1927 she began donating land in southern Oregon (which the School subsequently sold), and giving money to finance the acquisition of McDonald Forest lands. She had a specific goal for the donations she made to the School of Forestry: she had no children of her own and wanted to help the youth of the future learn more about the resources she was most interested in and concerned about, Agriculture and Forestry.

Mary McDonald died in 1935, by which time 3000 acres had been acquired for McDonald Forest. In her will she left all of her real property in Oregon to Oregon Agricultural College and specifically stated in the will that proceeds from this property would go towards "research work." (She actually said agricultural research work, but her private secretary and business manager clarified her intent by saying, "My own personal feeling is that if the funds derived from her bequest were used in any other way than for the betterment of the School of Forestry or the development or enlargement of the McDonald Forest it would be a miscarriage of her ideas and wishes... I base this on many, many conversations with her.") The School was able to use her donation to increase the forest to 6000 acres. The deeds for many of the McDonald Forest parcels have an education and research use restriction written into them.

In 1947 Dean Paul Dunn worked very hard, in spite of opposition from the School and the College, to acquire an additional 6200 acres of forest and agricultural land that had been used for training by Camp Adair during World War II . The government had originally acquired this parcel from nearly 40 different landowners through purchase and condemnation proceedings. Although the land was valued at $250,000, President Strand was somewhat opposed to the acquisition because of the $2000 that would have to be spent to survey it. Dunn prevailed and the transfer came through the War Assets Administration with a use mandate stated in the deed:

  1. For 25 years, the property must be used in connection with the School of Agriculture and the School of Forestry as a "teaching laboratory", to conduct useful research in all phases of the proper use of the lands, and for incidental purposes pertaining to the management, but for no other uses.
  2. For those 25 years, a semi-annual report showing these uses had to be filed with the War Assets Administration.
  3. The land could not be sold for 25 years, but mature timber could be harvested in accordance with sound forestry practices and the proceeds used for research purposes by the School of Agriculture and the School of Forestry.
  4. Wide publicity must be given concerning the dangers inherent in the explosive contamination of the property.