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Years of drought causing tree die-off in Oregon forests

Years of drought causing tree die-off in Oregon forests | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Douglas firs and other trees are dying in Southern Oregon forests, where three years of drought have been taking their toll.

The Mail Tribune reports that experts say even more drought-tolerant trees like Ponderosa pines have lost out in the competition for water. The wet winter couldn’t prevent tree death after years of drought and beetle attacks.

The die-off in Applegate Velley, up the West Cascades and into the Willamette Valley appears to be even worse than those caused by drought in the mid-1990s and early 2000s. The scale of the die-off will be quantified during aerial mapping surveys next month.

Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest plant pathologist Ellen Goheen says there seem to be more dead and dying conifers than at any point during the past 22 years.
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Linn County plans $1.4 billion class-action lawsuit over state forest management

Linn County plans $1.4 billion class-action lawsuit over state forest management | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
A county that claims the state mismanaged Oregon Forest Trust Lands and cost it and others millions of dollars in lost revenue for schools and public safety is threatening to file a class-action lawsuit seeking $1.4 billion.

Linn County notified the governor and state forester of its plans to sue on behalf of 14 other counties over breach of contract. It says Oregon has failed to live up to decades-old contracts that allow counties to receive payments based on annual timber harvests on state-managed lands.

The payments go toward local law enforcement, schools and other special county districts to help cover basic services.

“This breach of contract has had devastating effects on local communities that have seen both poverty and unemployment rates skyrocket in the last two decades as a result of current practices,” Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist said at a news conference.

Josh Laughlin, executive director of Cascadia Wildlands in Eugene, said the county’s claims lack merit and called the arrangement of clear-cutting forests to fund essential services archaic.

“It appears the counties missed the memo that the state is not required to log to infinity in these state lands,” Laughlin said. “They also have a duty to protect clean water, fish and wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and other values held closely by Oregonians.”

The state manages about 654,000 acres of Forest Trust Lands it purchased from the counties several decades ago. Linn County officials say a forest management plan adopted in 2001 emphasized improvements to fish and wildlife habitat and other conservation measures, which reduced logging and slashed timber revenue by half.

“We believe over time a delta has developed: the difference between what these lands could produce ... versus the production that is occurring,” said John DiLorenzo, an attorney at the Portland law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP who is representing Linn County.
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Oregon to buy 1,310 acres of forest land near Dabob Bay for $3.96 million

Oregon to buy 1,310 acres of forest land near Dabob Bay for $3.96 million | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The state will buy 1,310 acres of working forest near Dabob Bay.

The state Board of Natural Resources approved the $3.96 million purchase Tuesday.

Jefferson County will receive $65,000 as compensation for lost tax revenue.

The state Department of Natural Resources will purchase the land from Ecotrust Forest Management, an Oregon forest investment management and advisory services company.

No recreational uses for the forest are planned, according to Bob Redling, DNR spokesman, although the public will be allowed to enter it.

The state expects to manage the forest for future revenue for the Common School Trust, which provides funding for K-12 school construction.
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Lloyd's of London offers Oregon wildfire coverage with $50 million deductible

Lloyd's of London offers Oregon wildfire coverage with $50 million deductible | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The state of Oregon has a chance to continue its unique insurance policy that helps pay for fighting wildfires in big burning years — but at a higher premium and deductible.
Lloyd’s of London has offered to cover up to $25 million of wildfire costs this season, after the state pays a deductible of $50 million, The Bulletin newspaper of Bend reported Friday.
After last year’s tough season, the premium the Oregon Department of Forestry and private landowners would pay has nearly doubled: from $2 million to $3.75 million. The deductible is more than twice last year’s $20 million.
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Singapore company buys 197K acres of timberland in Southern Oregon

Singapore company buys 197K acres of timberland in Southern Oregon | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Editor's note: The price of this transaction has been removed from the original story pending verification.
A Singapore-based investor has purchased a major Southern Oregon timber tract.
Whitefish Cascade Forest Resources LLC secured 197,000 acres in Klamath and Deschutes counties in Oregon's High Desert.
Fidelity National Financial Ventures (NYSE: FNFV) announced the deal on Wednesday. The company said it covered all of the assets of its portfolio company, Cascade Timberlands LLC.
FNFV received a cash distribution of approximately $63 million.
"We are excited to monetize the value of Cascade for our shareholders," said FNF Chairman William P. Foley, II. "We have been owners of Cascade for approximately eight years and believe it is in the best interest of our shareholders to monetize the value of this land at this time and seek another use for this cash in the hopes of maximizing the value of our FNFV assets."
Whitefish Cascade Forest Resources is registered as an Oregon company with a Salem address, but its principal address is in Singapore and its mailing address is in Seattle.
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Land board seeks sale of Elliott State Forest

Land board seeks sale of Elliott State Forest | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Members of the Oregon State Land Board said Tuesday they want to sell the Elliott State Forest to another government agency or public-private partnership.

The proposal would provide the State Land Board with a way out of the long-running arrangement of logging the Elliott State Forest, which is northeast of Coos Bay, to generate money for public schools. That system has generated more controversy and less revenue in recent years, as the state scaled back timber harvests following lawsuits over federally protected species in the forest.

Environmental groups and members of the public have also urged the state to manage the forest for conservation and recreation, goals that clash with the State Land Board’s duty under the Oregon Constitution to maximize timber revenue for schools.

The three members of the board, Gov. John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, said during a meeting Tuesday that they want employees of the Department of State Lands to continue to proceed with an option to request proposals from entities interested in purchasing the 84,000 acres in the Elliott forest which the state manages to benefit schools.
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Oregon timber harvest tops 4 billion board feet

Oregon timber harvest tops 4 billion board feet | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Oregon's timber harvest topped 4 billion board feet last year, the first time it has reached that level since 2006, a state report released Tuesday shows.


The 4.2 billion board feet harvested in 2013 represents a 12 percent increase from the year before and marks the fourth consecutive year of increases since the recession low of 2.7 billion board feet in 2009.

The state Department of Forestry said in its annual harvest report that the increase can be chalked up to a strong export market and a domestic housing recovery.


However, the upward trend might not continue in 2014 because housing forecasts have been revised lower and the export market recently cooled, said Brandon Kaetzel, the top economist at the department.

***

Sixty percent of Oregon's forest land is federal. Industrial and family owned lands comprise another 34 percent and the rest is divided between entities such as the state, counties and tribes. Percentage-wise, the largest harvest spike in 2013 was on non-industrial private forestlands, where the harvest increased 61 percent to 511 million board feet.


"This is most likely due to small forestland owners taking advantage of higher prices as a result of a still strong export market in 2013," Kaetzel said in a statement.


The harvest on industrial forestlands increased 8 percent, from 2.56 billion board feet in 2012 to 2.75 billion board feet last year.

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Judge permits timber harvest that environmentalists claim threatens marbled murrelet in Oregon

Judge permits timber harvest that environmentalists claim threatens marbled murrelet in Oregon | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A Jefferson County judge has rejected a request for a temporary injunction against a state-approved harvest of 234 acres of timber on the West End adjacent to habitat of the threatened marbled murrelet.


After an hourlong presentation last week from attorneys on both sides of the issue, Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Keith Harper ruled against the plaintiffs, permitting the timber harvest by Interfor, which has mills in Forks and Port Angeles.


The judge ruled Friday that the area in question is outside of the murrelet's habitat and that the plaintiffs could have filed an action in advance of the beginning of the logging operation, which had been scheduled to begin Saturday.


The injunction request, filed by the Seattle Audubon Society and the Olympic Forest Coalition, sought to prevent the scheduled logging of 234 acres of timber in the state Department of Natural Resources' Goodmint and Rainbow Rock sites in west Clallam and Jefferson counties south of Forks.


Environmentalists said that the area had been set aside under the state's marbeled murrelet habitat conservation plan with the federal government.
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State officials said the second-growth trees in question are not vital to the murrelet's habitat, while Interfor said the trees are badly needed to supply the company's mill in Beaver and delays are costing jobs.


The environmental groups argued that while the area in question was not the old growth forest where the endangered bird usually lives, its proximity made it an important habitat for the bird.

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Oregon considers selling entire forest to benefit schools

Oregon considers selling entire forest to benefit schools | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The state of Oregon will consider selling the whole Elliott State Forest, where legal battles over logging and protections for threatened species have reduced revenues for schools.


Jim Paul, assistant director of the Department of State Lands, said Friday the forest has turned from an asset into a liability, costing the Common School Fund $3 million last year. He says the state has a responsibility to see if it can turn that around.


He adds that selling off the whole forest, whether to a timber company or conservation groups, is just one in a spectrum of possibilities that will be examined by department staff in coming months so the State Lands Board can make a decision.

***
The Elliott covers about 90,000 acres north of Coos Bay. It includes some of the last older forest in the Coast Range, where most forests are privately owned and heavily logged. As the state has tried to increase harvest levels in recent years to meet local demands for logs and revenue, it has run into difficulties meeting federal requirements to protect habitat for threatened northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets and coho salmon.


A lawsuit from conservation groups over protections for marbled murrelets, a seabird that nests in large old trees, has resulted in withdrawal of several timber sales. Protesters have occupied timber sales to prevent logging.


The State Lands Board, made up of the governor, state treasurer and secretary of state, decided last December to sell off five parcels from the forest to get a better idea of its value in light of logging restrictions to protect threatened species.


The deadline for bids on three of them was Friday. Paul said the names of the winners would not be disclosed until Wednesday.

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Feds to review Oregon timberland herbicides probe

Feds to review Oregon timberland herbicides probe | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Federal scientists have agreed to review the environmental evidence gathered by state agencies after rural residents in Curry County complained they got sick after being sprayed by herbicides meant for nearby timberlands.


Scientists from the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will work with Oregon state agencies to determine whether enough environmental data has been gathered to make a meaningful determination of the pesticide exposure in the community, spokeswoman Susan McBreairty said Thursday.


If there is enough data, the scientists from the agency _ a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention _ will do the evaluation.

The pesticides watchdog group Beyond Toxics of Eugene had petitioned the agency to get involved in the investigation into complaints last October from two dozen residents of the Cedar Valley area north of Gold Beach. They complained of vomiting, coughing, loss of balance, skin rashes, blurry vision and other ailments. Some also reported their animals were sickened.
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The Oregon Department of Agriculture has been investigating. In November, department pesticides program manager Dale Mitchell said the agency monitored the Oct. 16 spraying on nearby timberlands owned by Crook Timberlands LLC of Coos Bay. After people complained of being sick, vegetation samples from four properties were taken.
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On Friday, Crook Timberlands manager Rick Barnes denied their spraying operation was the source of helicopters and spray seen by Cedar Valley residents. He said the helicopter they hired was loaded from a site on their property, and never flew over Cedar Valley. He added that a person from Oregon Department of Forestry was on site monitoring. Barnes said he has identified another spray operation going on that day, and passed the information on to Department of Agriculture. He would not identify the company.
***
The Oregon Public Health Division has a longstanding cooperative agreement with Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to look into the effects of chemical exposures and human health, said division spokesman Jonathan Modie. Pokarney said the federal agency has not contacted the Department of Agriculture yet. Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Dan Postrel said they have not been contacted, either.


Herbicides are commonly used on privately owned industrial forests to control bush, allowing tree seedlings to grow more quickly.

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Oregon board OKs controversial forestland sale

Oregon board OKs controversial forestland sale | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Top state officials on Tuesday agreed to move forward with the sale of scattered tracts of the Elliott State Forest, despite objections from conservation groups that they include nesting trees for a protected bird.

Gov. John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler — who make up the State Land Board — unanimously backed the plan.


They said they're not trying to privatize the forest but need to balance conservation concerns against a constitutional requirement that the land generate money for public schools.

***

The Land Board is responsible for managing the Elliott, on the southern coast near Coos Bay, and other state forests to generate money for the Common School Fund, which supports public schools. Officials say the fund lost money in fiscal-year 2013 because litigation over habitat for the marbled murrelet, a threatened seabird, has all but halted timber sales.

***

"If you sold it to the timber industry at a cut-rate price, Oregonians would lose the remarkable, rare wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities that can only persist on public lands," said Francis Eatherington, conservation director for Cascadia Wildlands.


Kitzhaber responded that the sale would help establish a fair market value for the land, which would open up more options for divesting land in the future. Without knowing the value of the land, he said, the state can't negotiate exclusively with conservation-focused buyers because it wouldn't be able to prove it earned the maximum return for the land.

***

An appraiser hired by the state concluded the presence of marbled murrelets, discovered over the summer, would significantly decrease the value of the land up for sale, from an estimated $22.1 million to $3.6 million. Stands occupied by murrelets can't be logged, but the appraiser suggested a timber company might do so anyway, risking penalties to earn a high return.

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Driven by exports from private forests, timber harvest in Oregon up for third year in a row

Driven by exports from private forests, timber harvest in Oregon up for third year in a row | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Oregon's timber harvest reached 3.75 billion board feet in 2012, continuing a recovery from the crash of the housing market and the depths of the recession. In 2009, loggers cut 2.75 billion board feet, but the harvest has increased each year since.


The increased harvest has been driven by a strong export market and a slight improvement in housing starts, according to a report by the Oregon Department of Forestry. Timber from state and federal forests cannot be exported, but tribal and other privately-held timber can be shipped overseas.


Harvests from Native American-owned forests increased 21 percent in 2012, reaching a total of 63 million board feet. The harvest on "industrial" forests -- land owned by large timber companies -- increased 4 percent to 2.56 billion board feet. Owners of smaller family forest tracts cut 318 million board feet in 2012, more than a 14 percent increase over 2011.


Private and tribal harvests accounted for approximately 78 percent of the timber harvest in Oregon in 2012 despite making up only 37 percent of Oregon's timberland. About 60 percent of Oregon's 30 million acres of forest is owned by the federal government. Harvests on U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and state and county lands declined or remained about the same in 2012.

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House Takes Up Proposals to Raise Revenue Through Logging

House Takes Up Proposals to Raise Revenue Through Logging | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A House panel is taking up two proposals that would increase logging in federal forests to raise money for struggling timber counties.


Washington Republican Doc Hastings chairs the House Natural Resources Committee. Hastings says Northwest timber counties are running out of money and it’s difficult for them to raise revenue, given their depressed economies.


So he’s introducing a bill that would require logging on all federal forest land unless its designated as a wilderness area and give 25 percent of the profits to the counties.

***

Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio and Republican Rep. Greg Walden have a more limited timber proposal in the same hearing. Their plan would move some Oregon forests into a trust managed for logging. It sets aside other parcels for conservation. A spokesman for the group Oregon Wild says both bills would allow clearcutting on lands the public loves and are unlikely to win support in the Senate.

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The State Of Oregon’s Timber Industry

The State Of Oregon’s Timber Industry | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Oregon’s once-booming timber industry has fallen off sharply since the 1990s, when the federal government listed the spotted owl as threatened, and timber production was halted where it interfered with owl habitat.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson takes a walk through a forest in Oregon City with Mike Cloughesy of the Oregon Forest Resources Institute to look at how the industry has changed over the years. He also stopped by the town of Estacada, which saw a boom of logging activity decades ago but has since struggled.
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Elliott State Forest sale attracts four dozen prospective buyers

Elliott State Forest sale attracts four dozen prospective buyers | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Four dozen entities have formally expressed interest in buying the Elliott State Forest, an 84,000-acre property near Coos Bay. Prospective owners include timber companies, conservation groups, local governments, tribes and a handful of individuals.


The proposed sale has been controversial for years. The forest, created in 1930 to provide funding for the State School Fund, recently has lost money as timber harvests have declined.


In August, the State Land Board voted on a plan to sell the property as one piece, at full market value, to a single party that would be willing to maintain public benefits. Those include recreational access, preservation of older forest stands, protection of watersheds and maintaining jobs.

But, if a buyer willing to provide those benefits cannot be found, the property could be sold to a buyer who would not.


Tuesday was the deadline to submit an “expression of interest.” Potential buyers, either on their own or joining forces, now have until Nov. 15, 2016 to submit an ownership plan.
***
The property has not yet had an official appraisal, but likely is valued at $300 million to $400 million. The State Land Board hopes to complete the deal by the end of 2018.

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State Land Board approves selling Elliott State Forest

State Land Board approves selling Elliott State Forest | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
The State Land Board has approved selling the Elliott State Forest to a buyer who will agree to restrictive conditions: pay a fair market price, conserve older trees, protect threatened fish and wildlife, produce logs for local mills, and leave it open to the public.

The board made up of the governor, the secretary of state and the state treasurer unanimously endorsed a resolution Thursday in Salem to go forward with the sale.

The forest in the Coast Range north of Coos Bay has been running $1 million a year in the red because timber sales have been overturned for failing to protect fish and wildlife habitat.

"This action today comes after years of hard work and thorough consideration of input from a wide spectrum of interested citizens," Department of State Lands director Mary Abrams said in a statement. "We believe the adopted protocol will allow the Land Board to meet their trustee responsibilities to the schoolchildren of Oregon through a transfer that balances economic and conservation values."

A meeting is scheduled for Sept. 17 in Salem to provide potential buyers with specifics on the conditions of the sale.

The 140-square-mile forest was created in 1930 and 90 percent of it generates money for schools. It once produced $8 million a year for the Common School Fund. Attempts to increase logging to produce $13 million annually for schools failed. Lawsuits continually blocked timber sales on the grounds that they failed to maintain habitat for federally protected coho salmon and the marbled murrelet, a seabird that nests in big old trees.

Prospects for a timber company buying the forest with all the conditions attached seem unlikely. One potential scenario is that a public land trust would buy it and then sell it to the federal government, returning it to the Siuslaw National Forest, from which it originally came.
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Oregon might lose wildfire insurance

Oregon might lose wildfire insurance | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Private timberland owners and the state officials charged with protecting those lands are both in the dark over how consecutive bad fire seasons will change the way Oregon pays to fight catastrophic wildfires.

For nearly four decades, Oregon has purchased an insurance policy that kicks in when wildfires are catastrophic. It’s a unique setup similar to car insurance.

The state has paid a premium of around $1 million and a $25 million deductible before the company chips in. The policy has saved the state as much as $46 million since 1973.

With a month left before spring, the only thing that is certain is that the state and landowners most likely will have to pony up if they want the insurance this year, if Oregon gets a policy at all.

The state sent its top forester, Doug Decker, across the Atlantic to meet face to face with brokers from Lloyd’s of London early this month.

Even now, Decker says, the future is uncertain.

“They’ll be asking themselves the question what can they afford to provide, and we’ll be asking the question what can we afford to pay,” Decker said.
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Hancock, Boise mum on expiring forest contract

Hancock, Boise mum on expiring forest contract | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

On Dec. 31, a guaranteed wood-supply contract originally inked between Boise Cascade Company and Forest Capital Partners that in 2012 was assumed by new landowner Hancock Timber will expire. Included in that massive, multi-state purchase were 148,000 acres of land in northern Wallowa County that for decades had been owned by Boise Cascade.


Representatives from Boise Cascade and Hancock Timber declined to comment about the contract situation, but Hancock Timber’s La Grande-based regional manager, Joe Justice, said the two firms will continue to do business with each other.
***
Justice, who was hired by Boise Cascade in 2000 and has remained working on the same 300,000 acre “tree farm” in Northeast Oregon and Southwestern Washington as ownership has changed from Boise cascade to Forest Capital and now Hancock Timber, says a common misconception about those changes in ownership is that personnel making on-the-ground decisions on that large tract of land, half of which is in Wallowa County, changes with ownerships. “Walk in our office today,” says Justice, “and you’ll see many of the same faces as those working during Boise Cascade’s ownership. Local land knowledge is very important.”


One major difference between the ownership of Forest Capital and that of Hancock Timber deals with actual owners of the property. In essence, a large pool of investors owned Forest Capital, which owned the property and distributed earnings on investment proportionally. Hancock Timber, with land holdings all over the world, operates on a different business model, says Justice. Individual investors in Hancock Timber own individual tracts of land, and there are eight such investors that own land in Wallowa County. And yet those landowners are not individuals, but in most cases large pension funds that are reimbursed for investments according to earnings made off the individual tracts of land they own in Wallowa County.


Although Justice wasn’t at liberty to answer questions that delved into proprietary information matters, he did address Hancock Timber’s worldwide policy about cutting 2 percent of its holdings annually, forming a 50-year crop rotation, and whether that policy is being followed in northern Wallowa County.


Justice repeatedly stated that 2 percent of 300,000 acres is a large amount of timber to be cut in one year (6,000 acres to be exact) and, in his opinion, local worries on the matter arose from a circumstance of so many acres being clear-cut within sight from Highway 3, in northern Wallowa County. That area from Hancock’s purchase included an inventory of trees that needed to be harvested.

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Conservation group wants to buy burned forest

Conservation group wants to buy burned forest | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A conservation group says the wildfire that burned more than 10 square miles of private timberland outside Bend has not dampened its desire to buy the property.


The Two Bulls fire broke out last Saturday on forest owned by Cascade Timberlands. Although it threatened hundreds of scattered rural homes west of Bend, firefighters managed to stop its spread, and on Friday it was 70 percent contained.


Investigators have said it was caused by people, but have not said whether it was deliberately set or an accident.


The Bulletin newspaper reports that Deschutes Land Trust has long been interested in buying the property to create a Skyline Forest. The goal is to preserve it from development, protect wildlife habitat, maintain scenic views and use it in education programs, executive director Brad Chalfant said.

***

Timber giant Crown Pacific owned the tree farm before going bankrupt in 2002. The land was sold to creditors and eventually came to be owned by Cascade Timberlands, which has an office in Bend. The timber company is owned by Fidelity National Timber Resources, a subsidiary of Fidelity National Financial in Jacksonville, Florida.


Cascade Timberlands also has forests near Gilchrist and Chiloquin, Chalfant said. Fidelity apparently wants to sell all its holdings in Oregon, amounting to about 200,000 acres, so he has been working to draw in partners, he added.

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Elliott State Forest sale closes amid controversy

Elliott State Forest sale closes amid controversy | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The Oregon Department of State Lands has completed the controversial sale of three parcels of Elliott State Forest totaling 1,453 acres to Seneca Jones Timber and Scott Timber Co.


The Wednesday sale fetched $4.2 million despite the promise from environmental groups to file a lawsuit to halt logging over the alleged existence of federally protected marbled murrelets in the parcels.


The East Hakki Ridge parcel was purchased by Seneca Jones Timber for $1.89 million, while Adams Ridge 1 was purchased by Scott Timber for $1.87 million. Benson Ridge was purchased for $787,000.

Sam Radcliffe's insight:

Weighted average $2,890 per acre.

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Elliot Forest could bring $40 Million for schools

Elliot Forest could bring $40 Million for schools | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A new report released shows that if the Oregon State Land Board sold or leased the 93,000-acre Elliott State Forest, public school funding would increase by at least $40 million annually.


Roughly 85,000 acres of the Elliott State Forest are managed for the primary purpose of raising funds for public schools. These lands are known as “Common School Trust Lands,” and the Oregon State Land Board is required by law to manage them for the trust beneficiaries: public school students. Net receipts from timber harvest activities on the Elliott are transferred to the Common School Fund (CSF), where assets are invested by the Oregon Investment Council in various financial instruments. Twice each year, public school districts receive cash payments based on the investment returns of CSF assets.


Due to environmental litigation, the State Land Board lost $3 million managing the Elliott State Forest in 2013. As a result, the Land Board has recently decided to sell 2,700 acres of the Elliott. An independent analysis conducted for Cascade Policy Institute by economist Eric Fruits shows that selling or leasing the entire forest would dramatically increase the semi-annual returns to public schools, and would do so in perpetuity.


According to Cascade president John A. Charles, Jr., “The Land Board has a fiduciary duty to manage the state trust lands for the benefit of the public schools. Losing $3 million on a timberland asset worth at least $600 million is likely a breach of that duty. The Land Board is doing the right thing by taking bids to sell parcels of the Elliott, and should continue to pursue a path of selling or leasing larger portions of the forest. There is no plausible scenario of Land Board timber management that would bring superior returns to public schools than simply disposing of these lands and placing the funds under the management of the Oregon Investment Council.

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Company Works Swiftly To Salvage Dead Timber While Public Timber Sits

Company Works Swiftly To Salvage Dead Timber While Public Timber Sits | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

As Phil Adams’ pickup climbed Rabbit Mountain, the green scenery faded to black. Trees grew sparse and were entirely absent in places.


Still, fully loaded log trucks were coming down the mountain. At the top, loggers unhooked cables attached to charred trees dragged uphill. Except for burn spots, stacked timber appeared in good shape.


The land belongs to Roseburg Forest Products, and the company is urgently salvaging flame-damaged trees before they turn to mush.

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Since early September, RFP has salvaged 8 million board feet damaged in last summer’s 48,679-acre Douglas Complex fires. The company plans to log another 32 million board feet in the next 18 months.


The fires burned on a mix of private and Bureau of Land Management timberlands, leaving behind the contentious issue of how to restore the land.


While salvage operations are moving fast on private land, the BLM has yet to make firm plans. BLM spokesman Cheyne Rossbach said the agency is aware that dead timber loses value the longer it stays in the forest.

***

The dissimilar approaches are noticeable from atop Rabbit Mountain. Much of RFP’s land has been logged. Meanwhile, dead trees, both standing and toppled over, cover the BLM land. The difference creates a quilt pattern across the rolling mountains.

***

Rossbach said BLM is considering options, including harvesting dead timber, and will hold meetings in January to update the public and ask for comments.


Any plans to salvage timber have to go through environmental reviews and include leaving trees for wildlife habitat, he said.


“We don’t know yet what salvage will look like,” Rossbach said. “We currently have a team in place assessing the lands and what we need to do as far as recovery, and we are setting up another team to look at potential for salvage.”


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Marbled murrelets discovered in Elliott State Forest, put land sale in doubt

Marbled murrelets discovered in Elliott State Forest, put land sale in doubt | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The discovery of threatened marbled murrelet seabirds has cast uncertainty over a plan to sell state-owned land in the Elliott State Forest in Coos County.


The protected seabird was spotted this summer by state surveyors and volunteers with Coast Range Forest Watch, a conservation group that opposes the sale.


Before the discovery, when logging wouldn't have been restricted, three tracts for sale in the forest were valued at $22.1 million. After the endangered species was found, the land's value dropped to $3.6 million, according to state appraisals. Stands occupied by murrelets can't be logged and are worth less.


Timber industry representatives told an appraiser working for the Department of State Lands that they were unlikely to aggressively pursue the land, because of the uncertainty arising from the bird.

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A very tangible measure of the cost of the Endangered Species Act.

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Judge orders BLM to sell more timber in S. Oregon

Judge orders BLM to sell more timber in S. Oregon | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to sell more timber in Southern Oregon, and vacated a system federal scientists use to avoid harming the northern spotted owl.

The ruling out of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia came in a case filed by the timber industry against the Department of Interior.

Judge Richard J. Leon ruled that BLM has failed to consistently offer as much timber as called for in its 1995 resource management plans for the Medford and Roseburg districts since 2004.

And he found that a computer model used by government agencies to estimate spotted owl numbers in timber sale areas was adopted without input from the public, as required by the Administrative Procedures Act. He prohibited government agencies from using the protocol until it goes through a public comment process. The ruling did not address whether timber sales that have been sold based on the invalidated owl estimation protocol, but not yet cut, were still valid.

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