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Massive timberland purchase could bring changes

The $2.65 billion Longview Timber purchase by Weyerhaeuser Co. made national news last week as one of the largest timberland deals in U.S. history.

The deal, which will be made official in July, gives Weyerhaeuser 645,000 acres of timberland in Washington and Oregon. On a local level, 30,000 acres here will no longer be managed by Longview, and signs point to the Longview management team, which consists of 16 employees, remaining after the new owners take charge.

“The Longview team is a great complement to our acreage out there,” said Weyerhaeuser government and community relations manager Greg Miller.

Still, with new owners will come some changes.

On the question of the field office maintained by Longview Timber in downtown Sandy, Miller was not able to speculate on whether or not it would remain, nor was he able to comment on whether additional staff would be added. In terms of how the forest products will be sold once harvested from the acreage, Miller indicated there would not be much deviation from the current model.

“We believe our company is uniquely positioned to maximize the value of those lands,” he said. “We’ve been in Oregon for over 100 years and have a lot of experience managing Doug fir forests.”

A shift in ownership raises questions about practices concerning replenishment of the resource. While Longview Timber maintained a replanting effort on the acreage, both companies participate with the Forest Stewardship Council, an independent agency that sets certification standards and practices for forest management in North America. Lumber certified through the FSC is in compliance with sustainability practices set by the council. Weyerhaeuser also promotes itself as an innovator in forest management, claiming a tree growth rate two to three times faster than other managed forests.

“Our investment in technology allows us to grow trees on the forestland we own at two to three times the rate of comparable unmanaged forests,” reads the company’s page on sustainability practices.

Weyerhaeuser Company, one of the world’s largest private timberland owners, was established in 1900.

The company manages more than 6 million acres, primarily in the U.S., and manages another 14 million acres under long-term licenses in Canada.