County sells east Oregon timberland

Hood River County has accepted the offers of two bidders interested in purchasing all of the county’s nearly 19,000 acres of Eastern Oregon timberland it has owned since 2002.

After executive session Monday night, Hood River County Commissioners unanimously voted to accept a bid of $5.7 million for 13,652 acres of county forestland along Desolation Creek in Grant County. Ecotrust, a Portland-based conservation group that describes its forestry division as a “forestland investment management and advisory services company,” submitted the lone bid, with a purchase price of about $417.52 per acre.

County Administrator Dave Meriwether also confirmed Monday that the county had sold a 5,309-acre parcel of forestland known as the Wilkins Creek Tract in Eastern Oregon’s Umatilla County for $2.335 million. Three bids on the land were submitted to the county, with the winning bid going to Western Partitions Inc., an “interior/exterior contracting firm” with locations around the Pacific Northwest, including the Portland metro area. Meriwether said the land sold for $235,000 more than the minimum amount the county sought. The parcel sold for approximately $439.82 per acre.

The total sale price of $8.035 million means the county “made a little bit of money” on its 11-year investment despite general decreases in timber values, said Meriwether. The county purchased the land for $6.666 million back in 2002 as part of a tripartite exchange with the U.S. Forest Service, who agreed to compensate Hood River County for a 1,016-acre swath of mature forestland on the west side of the county that was rendered untouchable by the formation of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area in 1986.

The county has been motivated to divest itself of its Eastern Oregon timber holdings due to the cost and difficulty of administering land so far away from its borders. Meriwether estimated the county spent around $30,000 per year in administration costs on the two parcels.

Though it made a small profit on the timber sale, the county has no plans to dump the funds back into county coffers. In July, County Forestry Manager Doug Thiesies reported that the county was interested in purchasing more forestland, but within Hood River County. He mentioned there were “a couple of tracts of land in the county we may be interested in” that were state-owned, but declined to go into further detail.

Meriwether confirmed Monday that the county was still interested in purchasing more forestland in Hood River County, but wouldn’t delve into specifics.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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