310Middle Fork land sells again
- Sep 14, 2007From The Idaho Statesman, Friday, September 14, 2007, Business pages
1 and 5
POTLATCH BUYS CHUNK OF IDAHO LAND
Company says acreage in the McCall and Cascade areas will be managed
for timber, real estate and recreation.
By Ken Dey
The Potlatch Corp. is adding 179,000 acres of timberland in Central
Idaho to its portfolio and may sell some of it for real-estate
The Spokane-based company has reached an agreement to purchase the
land, once owned by Boise Cascade, from Western Pacific Timber LLC
for approximately $215 million.
Most of the land is located near McCall, New Meadows, Cascade,
Donnelly and Tamarack Resort.
Potlatch said it will manage the lands for timber production, real
estate development and recreational amenities.
"In addition to increasing our overall core timberland base, the
lands offer exceptional recreation amenities and real estate value to
those interested in active outdoor recreation in the heart of Idaho,"
William R. DeReu, Potlatch's vice president of real estate, said in a
Under Boise Cascade's ownership, the land had served as the major
source of timber for its lumber mill in Cascade, which the company
shut down in 2003.
Potlatch is Idaho's largest private landowner. This purchase will
boost its holdings to a total of 840,000 acres. Most of the company's
land is in North Idaho.
This is the third time in three years that the Central Idaho land has
changed hands. Boise Cascade had owned the land until late 2004, when
the Boise company sold all its timber holdings totalling 2.2
million acres in the Northwest, Louisiana, Alabama and Minnesota to
Boston-based Forest Capital Partners LLC for $1.65 billion.
In March 2005, the Idaho land changed hands again when Western
Pacific bought it for an undisclosed amount. Western Pacific is owned
by millionaire developer Tim Blixseth, who built the Yellowstone Club
near Big Sky, Mont. The private club is marketed only to wealthy
patrons who meet certain income guidelines.
The Potlatch sale is occurring in two phases. The sale of most of the
land is expected to close this month, and the rest in January.
With the purchase, Potlatch will own approximately 1.7 million acres
of timberland in the United States.
Potlatch spokesman Matt Van Vleet said the purchase is part of the
company's strategy to increase the overall amount of timberland owned
by the company.
Van Vleet said once the sale is completed, the company will evaluate
the land and decide how it should be used. He expects that some of
the property, especially in the McCall area, may be too valuable to
grow timber on and could be sold as real estate or recreation
He said the company hasn't yet determined what ratio of the land
could be sold for development and what land would continue to be used
for timber harvesting.
Van Vleet said the company will likely continue allowing access on
its land, but will likely charge user fees as it has started to do
for some of its northern Idaho land.
The company has also started some pilot leasing programs on its land
in northern Idaho for hunting and recreation. He said some of this
land could potentially be used for that purpose too.
Jonathan Oppenheimer, a senior conservation associate with the Idaho
Conservation League, said Potlatch's long history with Idaho means
the company will likely hold on to the bulk of the land for the long-
term. The biggest concern for local residents will be any plans
Potlatch may have to sell the land for development, he said.
"I think people will be more comfortable with Potlatch owning the
land because they've been around more than 100 years," Oppenheimer
said. "But there will be development of some of these lands.
Hopefully we'll see that development occur in a more thoughtful
fashion under Potlatch."
Van Vleet said Potlatch manages its existing forests under guidelines
from the Forest Stewardship Council and will transfer the new lands
to that same level of management.
The Forest Stewardship Council is a nonprofit international
organization devoted to encouraging responsible management of the
world's forests. Potlatch was the first publicly traded company to
adopt management standards from the organization.
Oppenheimer said that's a positive effect of having Potlatch buy the
land, which previously wasn't managed under the council's standards.
Ken Dey: 672-6757