MT timberland purchaser promises continued public access

December 23, 2019 GMT

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A Georgia-based investment group has confirmed it is buying 1,000 square miles (2,600 square kilometers) of timberland in Montana from Weyerhaeuser.

An attorney for Southern Pine Plantation told the Flathead Beacon the timberland investment company is buying the land and has no plans to change Weyerhaeuser’s long-standing practices related to public access, forest management, grazing, existing outfitting agreements and conservation easements.

James Bowditch, the company’s legal counsel, said they felt it was in the public interest to “provide this assurance to concerned Montanans.”

Seattle-based Weyerhaeuser announced the $145 million cash sale on Dec. 17 without naming the buyer.

Bowditch acknowledged Southern Pine Plantation’s recent purchase of timberland in Idaho only to sell it to private investors.

“We feel like there was concern that this was a bunch of Wall Street investors buying up property for a quick flip,” Bowditch said Saturday. “That is not what is happening at all. This is a timber company and they intend to manage the land for timber.”

Weyerhaeuser owns 1,375 square miles (3,561 square kilometers) of timberland in Montana. The sale is expected to close by June 2020.