City accepts high bids for harvest on two properties

by: MARK MILLER - St. Helens City Forester Brett Keller talks about the bids the city received for timber on its Canaan Road property at the St. Helens City Council's Wednesday, March 19, afternoon work session. Also pictured to the left are City Councilors Ginny Carlson and Keith Locke.The city of St. Helens is holding a timber sale this year to help pay for its planned purchase of the Boise Cascade Co. riverfront property south of Old Town.

The city received multiple bids for the harvest of timber on two sections of city-owned woodlands this month. On Wednesday, March 19, the St. Helens City Council voted to accept the high bids for each sale.

City Administrator John Walsh estimated Thursday that the timber sale will raise “close to $2 million.” He said the proceeds are expected to go toward the purchase of the former veneer plant property, which Boise Cascade agreed to sell to St. Helens earlier this year.

“That’s the trading timber ... for land,” Walsh said.

The high bid on a pair of units near Pittsburg Road designated Section 21 was from RSG Forest Products Inc. for $577.75 per 1,000 board feet of Douglas fir. The high bid on the city’s Canaan Road tract was from Simpson Lumber Co. at $563.99 per 1,000 board feet of Douglas fir.

“The Section 21 sale, I estimated about $1.2 million value, and this one at about $740,000,” City Forester Brett Keller told councilors Wednesday. “You should come out right around $2 million for revenue off the two sales.”

Both RSG and Simpson are based in southwest Washington.

The timber harvest itself will likely take place during the summer, a few months before the purchase and sale agreement between St. Helens and Boise Cascade is set to close, Walsh said.

“The anticipated close date of the veneer property is probably October,” said Walsh.

The purchase and sale agreement signed earlier this year between the city and the company, which produced wood products in St. Helens before closing down the operation in 2008, lays out a price of $3 per square foot for the property, which is assessed by the county at about 16.9 acres in size. That pencils out to a total price of about $2.21 million.

Walsh has said the price in the purchase and sale agreement may be subject to change, depending on the results of a new assessment and environmental testing, which he said is ongoing, at the property.

While the purchase and sale agreement includes a provision allowing St. Helens to pay for part or all of the property purchase by giving Boise Cascade timber harvest rights on city-owned land, Walsh said he determined it would be more efficient for the city to raise money for the transaction by selling its timber through an open bidding process.

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