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Tribes bidding on Longbell

By DYLAN DARLING

The Klamath Tribes plan to submit  a bid for a 90,000-acre piece of industrial timberland that was part of their original reservation.

Allen Foreman, chairman of the Chiloquin-based Tribes, wouldn't give any details of the bid on the Longbell Tree Farm.

"We certainly think that property should come under tribal ownership," he said. "It's in the heart of our former reservation, and it holds a lot of cultural and spiritual significance to the Tribes."

Once part of the original Klamath Indian Reservation set by the treaty of 1864, the acreage has long been held by timber companies.

The Longbell Lumber Company used railroads to log it in the 1920s. Weyerhaeuser Co. bought it in 1942, and planted pine seedlings on thousands of acres.

Weyerhaeuser sold the parcel in 1996 to U.S. Timberlands, which has since become Timber Resource Services.

The Tribes' reservation was abolished after the Tribes were terminated by Congress in 1954. The Tribes regained federal recognition in 1986, but don't have a reservation.

Foreman said the Tribes retained hunting and fishing rights for the land, so they have a vested interest in it.

"There is no way we could not be in the picture," he said. He declined to comment on where the Tribes would obtain financing to purchase the land.

Whether anyone else will enter a bid for the 144-square-mile tree farm northeast of Chiloquin remains unknown.

"We don't really know who might be interested in it," Foreman said.

Sealed bids on the property are due today at 5 p.m. to Realty Marketing/ Northwest, the Portland company selling the land for Timber Resource Services.

The company won't be making any announcements about who made a bid.

"That information is really proprietary," said John Rosenthal, company president.

If there is a winning bid, the sale of the property would probably close the third week of October, he said.

Foreman said the bidding information packet indicated it would be a week until bidders would be notified whether they had the winning bid.

Interest in the property has high, Rosenthal said, and many groups have visited the land for inspections.

"I'm optimistic we will get multiple bids," he said.

Along with the bid, the bidder must have a certified or cashier's check worth 10 percent of their bid. The minimum bid is $20 million.

Three-quarters of the tree farm is in Lake County, with the remainder in Klamath County. The land can either be bought in one big chunk or in quarters.

Those who might seem like likely buyers were tight-lipped if they planned to bid, and were curious about what others' plans were.

Some groups have said they are not going to put in a bid, while others declined to say one way or the other.

Weyerhaeuser has moved out of the Klamath Basin, and an official with the timber giant said the company has no plans of coming back.

Portland-based Crown Pacific, which is undergoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and is selling its mill in Gilchrist, will not be putting in a bid, said company spokesman John Magan.

An official at Jeld-Wen, which has thousands of acres of timberland in Klamath County, said he couldn't confirm or deny whether the company would put up a bid for the land.

"We don't give that kind of information out," said Jason DeVries, a real estate manager for Jeld-Wen.

Officials for The Nature Conservancy and the state of Oregon said their groups were interested in the purchase, but there wasn't enough time to put together a bid. The sale was announced through newspaper ads that started in mid-July.

"We were interested in the possibility of partnering with someone, but in the time frame, that didn't materialize," said Mark Stern, Klamath Basin director for The Nature Conservancy.

Although the state had the basic authority to try to put up a bid, it didn't have room in its budget for it, and the Oregon Legislature would have been called into emergency session to add it, said Marvin Brown, state forester.

"It's just there wasn't enough time until September 15," he said.

The state would consider getting a bid together if the initial bidding process isn't successful in finding a buyer, Brown said.

The Nature Conservancy is still interested, too, Sterns said, but a partner would need to be found.

"Like a lot of other people we are waiting to see what happens," Sterns said.

 

 

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Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific


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