SPI plans to log land, then sell it to TNF | TheUnion.com

SPI plans to log land, then sell it to TNF

Sierra Pacific Industries plans to selectively log its property in Sierra County where a tree-sitter is now encamped, then sell the land to Tahoe National Forest in return for federal dollars.

The San Francisco office of Trust for Public Land is acting as go-between in the deal.

Tim Feller, area manager for SPI, has said the firm will selectively log the tract by helicopter. He declined comment Friday.

The land trust group has options to buy about 35,000 acres of SPI land in the Sierra Nevada, including the Sierra County parcel near Milton Creek where an environmentalist sits in a Douglas fir, said Mary Menees, spokeswoman for the land conservancy group.

The land trust will lobby for funds – possibly royalties from off-shore oil drilling – to buy the Milton Creek parcel from the timber company.

“We’re disappointed that they’re considering logging,” Menees said.

But SPI’s timber harvest plan expires next year, and Trust for Public Land doesn’t expect to be able to arrange federal funding to buy the land until 2004, she said.

“Here’s the rub: they still own the land and we can’t guarantee that we’ll buy (it),” she said.

Nevada County environmental activists began a tree-sit about a week ago to save what they say is a grove of beautiful old-growth trees near Milton Creek.

Could sparing the grove from logging be part of the land purchase deal?

“We could request that. But what (SPI does) is totally up to them,” said Ken Werner, TNF lands program manager.

Even if the SPI land is logged, TNF would still like to obtain it, Werner said.

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