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No state bid for tree farm


Published August 25, 2004


The state of Oregon won't be submitting a bid for the Longbell Tree Farm.

"I don't think we will be able to put it together in time," Oregon state Forester Marvin Brown said Tuesday during a visit to Klamath County. The 144-square mile plot of land near the headwaters of the Williamson River is up for sale by auction with bids due Sept. 15. The minimum bid is $20 million, and a cashier's check for 10 percent of the bid must be submitted.

Brown visited with officials in Lake and Klamath counties in early August to gauge interest in having the state purchase the land and manage it as a state forest.

He said Tuesday that local officials he spoke with were supportive of the possibility, but that the state won't be able to get the money or legislative support needed to put a bid in by mid-September. Brown said it is a shame that the state won't be able to put a bid in on the land.

Officials at Realty Marketing/ Northwest, the Portland-based company selling the land for Timber Resources, said the sale should be complete by Oct. 22.

The company sent out 50 supplemental bid packets, which cost $35 each to produce, to interested companies and individuals. The sale was announced through advertisements in the Herald and News, San Francisco Chronicle, Bend Bulletin and Wall Street Journal, said Debbie Brown, director of advertising.

The companies and individuals interested in the 90,000-acre piece of land hail from around the country and Canada, she added, but no bids have been received yet.

"They wait until the very last minute," she said.

The land can be bid on as one large piece, or four separate tracts. Three tracts are in Lake County, one is in Klamath County.

If the land isn't sold through the initial auction process, Marvin Brown said the state would try to put an offer together.

Officials with the Klamath Tribes, whose original reservation in 1864 included the land, have also said they don't have enough time or money to submit a bid.

The Nature Conservancy, whose Sycan Marsh Preserve borders the land to the East, is interested in the land, but would want to buy it with a partner, said Stephen Anderson, spokesman for the conservancy.

He said the land is important for its timber production and its potential as a conservation area. To achieve both, The Nature Conservancy would want to team up with a company or agency in the timber sales business.

"But time is short," he said. "We would not bid on the property without a partner."

Even if it is sold to someone else, Marvin Brown said he and other forestry officials have learned that there is support for the state possibly managing more land in Lake and Klamath counties.

And, as more land in the two counties and across Eastern Oregon is sold by private owners, the state could again be considering getting into the market.

Brown said he plans to send a letter to the elected officials he met with, which include Lake and Klamath county commissioners and state Sen. Steve Harper, explaining what the state learned in his visits.

The response of most of the officials was that they would prefer for the land to be privately managed for sustainable harvest, but they would rather have the state manage the land than a conservation group.

"They are the only government agency that I would have supported," said Steve West, Klamath County Commissioner.

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