Agreement to Protect 600,000+ Acres of ID Timberlands
Spokane, Washington, 11/30/02 – Potlatch Corporation (NYSE:PCH) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) have signed an agreement to pursue a working-forest conservation easement on substantial portions of Potlatch’s 670,000 acres of Idaho forestlands.
The conservation easement will be developed and implemented in phases over the next several years and would be one of the largest easements in the nation. The project covers a large forested area of north-central Idaho. The Potlatch lands, in combination with intermingled state and federal lands, provides a unique and unparalleled conservation contribution in North America, according to the Trust for Public Land. In addition to assuring a sustainable supply of timber to support the region’s economy, the Potlatch easements will assure habitat protection for the area’s outstanding wildlife and fisheries as well as permanent public access for recreation and historic public uses.
When completed, the conservation easements will be held by the State of Idaho under the provisions of the USDA Forest Legacy Program. The Forest Legacy Program’s primary focus is to prevent the conversion of forestlands to non-forest uses. In addition to keeping private forestlands in timber production, the program provides for substantial fish and wildlife habitat conservation. In Idaho, it is administered by the US Forest Service and the Idaho Department of State Lands and has objectives consistent with those of the Potlatch conservation easement.
Idaho recently became the 31st state included in the Forest Legacy Program. Both Potlatch and TPL commended Idaho’s initiative and the leadership of Governor Dirk Kempthorne for making a valuable conservation tool available to Idaho’s forest landowners and the public.
Idaho public officials lauded the Potlatch-TPL agreement. “This is a great opportunity to protect jobs and conserve all the values associated with healthy forestlands,” noted Governor Kempthorne, who cited the proposal as “exactly the sort of win-win outcome we envisioned in establishing the Idaho Forest Legacy Program.”
Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho), was likewise supportive of the proposed project. “I have seen these types of working forest projects work in keeping lands in private, productive ownership while assuring the many public values, including access, are retained. I will work to help support this model program and secure funding to successfully implement this project.”
The Potlatch-TPL agreement establishes protocols for the two entities to work together in developing, implementing and securing funding for forest conservation easements that have multiple benefits. A key benefit is perpetuation of a sustainable working forest by preventing conversion of the protected forestland to residential development or other incompatible land uses. Conservation of wildlife and fisheries habitat, water quality and other resource values is another key benefit of the project, along with access and opportunities for public recreation.
All easement objectives must be achieved by means consistent with a working forest, but Potlatch must also agree to accept certain restrictions on its use of the property. In return for accepting restrictions and relinquishing some rights to use of its property, Potlatch will receive compensation based on an independent, fair-market appraisal of their value. Once completed the project could ultimately result in over $40 million in revenue to the company, depending upon appraisals and availability of funds.
Once the easement is completed, Potlatch will continue to manage its core forestland for the output of timber products, employing sustainable forestry practices on all lands placed in conservation easements. Potlatch’s Idaho forest practices were recently certified by independent third party audits as being in compliance with both the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 Environmental Management Standard and the 2002-2004 Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) requirements.
“Potlatch shareholders, the environment and the people of Idaho are the ultimate beneficiaries of the processes we have begun with TPL,” stated John R. Olson, Vice President of Potlatch’s Resource Management Division. “TPL’s expertise in real estate transactions that achieve conservation objectives is vital to its completion.”
“The loss of private forestlands to development is occurring at an alarming rate across the West,” stated David Genter, TPL’s Northern Rockies Director. “Congress has responded through the Forest Legacy Program with funding to the states to prevent the conversion of important forestlands to non-forest uses. By retaining working forests we enhance local communities’ economic base and provide for the many values associated with healthy forests,” he noted.
“The program awarded $65 million in conservation easement projects across the United States this year,” Genter pointed out. “It is a potential source of funds that would contribute to the successful implementation of the easement.”
“This approach ensures that forestlands are kept intact and able to provide wood products for people over the long term,” said Jim Riley, President of the Intermountain Forest Association. “We strongly support Potlatch’s efforts to keep a substantial piece of forestland forested for future generations.”
Potlatch Corporation, headquartered in Spokane, Washington, is a diversified forest products company with timberlands in Arkansas, Idaho and Minnesota. In addition to its 670,000 acres of forestland in Idaho, Potlatch is one of the Idaho’s largest employers with over 2,500 employees and manufacturing facilities in Lewiston, St. Maries and Post Falls.
The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law, to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and working landscapes on ranches, farms and timberlands. TPL’s Idaho projects include protection of private ranches along the Salmon River and in the Stanley Basin, historic sites along the Lewis and Clark Trail, and salmon habitat in central Idaho. Across the nation, TPL has helped protect more than 1.4 million acres. For more information, visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org