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Tribes to buy tree farm
Purchase agreement signed with timber company
The Klamath Tribes signed a purchase agreement with the owner of 90,000 acres of their former reservation in Klamath County.
According to the agreement announced Thursday, the Tribes will pay $21 million for the acreage, also called the Mazama Tree Farm. That amount is written into the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, which addresses water issues in the Basin. The Tribes hope to secure federal funding through the agreement.
Tribal chairman Joe Kirk said the agreement is primarily to make sure the Tribes can obtain the property should the restoration agreement be implemented.
“ We’re just trying to swing a deal,” he said.
The Mazama Tree Farm, owned by Cascade Timberlands, is within the heart of the former Klamath Reservation that spanned 2.5 million acres. The land is forested and is bisected by Highway 97.
The land was sold off in pieces following termination of the Klamath Tribes’ recognition by the federal government in the 1950s. The Mazama Tree Farm went through several owners before ending up with Cascade Timberlands.
Tribal leaders have long pursued re-establishment of a land base for the Tribes, saying it is key to their members becoming economically stable in the long term.
Specifically, the Tribes seek to manage the property’s timber and use it to revive the region’s timber industry.
Tribal council member Jeff Mitchell said the Tribes plan to pay for the property with federal funds in the restoration agreement.
However, should the restoration agreement not be implemented, there is language included in the purchase agreement to give the Tribes another way to pay. It was unclear how long the Tribes have to produce the money for the purchase before Cascade Timberlands can pull out of the agreement and seek other buyers.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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