PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled that the sale of a tract of the Elliott State Forest to a private timber company was illegal.

The ruling Wednesday overturns the sale of 788 acres to the Seneca Jones Timber Company and is a victory for environmental groups who had sued to stop it.

The Elliot State Forest was intended to be managed to generate money for public education.

But logging on the land was curtailed by environmental lawsuits.

The state backed away last year from a plan to sell the forest to timber interests.

Instead, the Oregon Legislature allocated $100 million in bond revenue last year to help keep the forest public.

The East Hakki Ridge tract was considered a test case for selling to private timber.