SPI sells 3,405 acres, will be public land | TheUnion.com

SPI sells 3,405 acres, will be public land

California’s timber Goliath recently sold 3,405 acres of a Placer County canyon to the U.S. Forest Service in a deal that took seven years to complete.

The land, about 14 miles east of Grass Valley near Colfax, was sold – for $1.7 million – through the Trust for Public Lands, a San Francisco-based nonprofit conservation organization that acted as facilitator during the transaction.

The nonprofit secured money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund with support from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Congressman John T. Doolittle, R-Rocklin, said Tim Feller, district manager for Sierra Pacific Industries.

“With that combined effort, SPI sold the land to TPL, and they sold it the forest service,” Feller explained. “We’re pretty pleased after seven years worth of effort.”

The land is about a 14-mile stretch on both sides of the American River canyon near Cape Horn.

The company has transferred roughly 21,000 acres to the Tahoe National Forest in recent years, Feller said.

The company, which owns 50,000 acres in Nevada County, plans to transfer “a few more thousand acres,” in the future, Feller said.

The timber company will use the proceeds to buy land “more suited to logging,” Feller said. He would not disclose what land SPI has its eye on.

To anticipated objections to clear-cutting, Feller said, “Sometimes clear- cutting is the right thing to do, depending on the condition of the property you’ve acquired.”

Much of the land SPI bought from timber companies that retreated from what some describe as California’s increasingly restrictive regulations on logging is “pretty picked over, where they’ve taken the biggest and best trees and left the runts,” Feller said.

The company owns 1.5 million acres in California.

A spokeswoman for one of SPI’s fiercest critics locally lauded the land transfer from the logging company to the U.S. Forest Service.

“Despite our obvious differences with SPI in the ways we think forests should be managed, we’re still happy that they are willing to work with communities to protect our beautiful river canyons,” said Janet Cohen, executive director of South Yuba River Citizens League, a nonprofit organization based in Nevada City.

SYRCL has negotiated with SPI to keep land near rivers from being logged. In 2000, it signed an agreement to delay or prevent a logging plan until the organization found a way to effect such a land transfer.

“We’re still working on it,” Cohen said.

The nonprofit and the logging firm collaborated on a January forum about forestry issues in called “Conversation about the Forest.”

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