County parks could benefit from logging about 50 to 60 acres

Clackamas County officials are hoping to move forward soon with a plan to preserve part of a 340-acre lot in the Welches area, and log the rest.

The project is called “Boulder 2014 Timber Sale” and is anticipated to bring in a combined estimated $2 million to $3 million to the parks operating budget.

After some initial reservations, Commissioner Tootie Smith called the Parks and Forest Department plan a “win-win,” because it would preserve the view for residents of Mt. Hood Village RV Resort while allowing the county to buy comparable timberland on Wildcat Mountain, seen as a less controversial area for logging.

“People in that area are used to logging,” Smith said. “They’re not going to object as much.”

The plan is to negotiate with the nonprofit Western Rivers Conservancy on a 140-acre parcel to get a price for both the timber, had it been cut, and the land under it.

Forest and Parks Department Manager Rick Gruen said the conservancy would use federal grant money to buy the site and then likely give it to the Bureau of Land Management, which owns a contiguous property that is used for conservation and habitat restoration along the Salmon River.

If the county gets an acceptable price from the conservancy, it will use the real estate sale and logging money from the other 200 acres — of which 50 to 60 acres are ready for harvest — of the Boulder lot to partially fund its parks for the next three years. The Parks and Forest Department also hopes to use the land price from the conservancy deal to replenish its timberland stock.

Gruen said his department would like to buy a parcel between Sandy and Estacada, closer to some of the other 3,000 acres it has in its inventory. Ideally they want a piece of either inexpensive young timberland or more expensive but quickly harvestable timberland, said County Forester Dan Green.

Commission Chairman John Ludlow praised forestry department efforts to come up with a plan that addressed the at-times heated debate over the sale at several public meetings.

“People ask: ‘What difference does it make for us to show up?’ It does make a difference and you’ve proven that in this case,” Ludlow told forestry managers in a June 17 study session.

Now, the plan hinges on the results of the negotiations with the conservancy land trust group.

Said Smith: “I’m anxious to hear about how much moulah they’re going to give us.”

Ludlow agreed: “Show me the money.”

Commissioners plan to revisit the timber sale issue at a July 29 study session.

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