COQUILLE — Coos County may acquire almost 2,000 more acres of timber land if things go as planned.
Lance Morgan, with the Coos County Forestry Department, said Tuesday that acreage owned by the State Land Board could be for sale as early as December, but appraisals had to be completed first. That likely would happen in September. County officials said they would purchase it if the price was right and public opinion was in favor of it.
“It would be like a dream come true,” Morgan said.
Morgan said the Oregon State Board of Forestry sent him a letter about a month ago stating the land would be for sale.
The state has not yet set a cost for the land, Coos County Commissioner Bob Main said. In order to gain the land, the county would have to come up with enough money, which could be challenging, Main said. If the county didn't want the land, it would become a bidding war between private companies like Weyerhauser and Lone Rock, Morgan said.
About 1,929 of the acreage is in Coos County and 185 acres are in Douglas County. Both are part of the Elliott State Forest.
The acreage identified is part of three different parcels of land: 1,576 acres of the Adams Ridge Parcel, 353 acres in the Benson Ridge Parcel and 785 acres in the East Hakki Ridge Parcel.
The land would be added to the county’s existing 15,000 acres of timber land, but the amount of usable timber for sale was unknown.
If the county acquired the land, it would be public, meaning the timber must be milled locally and would create jobs, Morgan said. If it went to a private company, the logs could be sent overseas, Morgan said.
The sale also would provide income for the county, if the price was low enough, county officials said.
“It’s an exciting prospect for our region,” said Commissioner John Sweet.
State lands update
County commissioners received an update Tuesday at their meeting on acreage managed by the state that may eventually come under county direction.
About 7,000 acres of county trust lands have been identified, Coos County Commissioner John Sweet said.
County officials said they’d hired a lawyer, Ron Yockim of Roseburg, to help acquire the land. It could be difficult to obtain because the timber was part of a lawsuit that restricts harvest due to the Endangered Species Act, Sweet said.
However, Sweet said he believes the timber may be free of the endangered northern spotted owl and the state isn’t maximizing logging on the land. Because the timber is part of a larger patch of state lands, it may get less prioritization for logging, the commissioner stated.
“There are no regularly scheduled harvests just for the county’s land there,” Sweet said.
Sweet first announced he’d found the land at a previous commissioners meeting and said the county should try to get it back to help balance budget constraints.
Reporter Emily Thornton can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 249 or at email@example.com or on Twitter: @EmilyK_Thornton.