Logging giant sells 731 Sierra acres to parks system

By Don Thompson
Friday September 13, 2002

SACRAMENTO— More than 700 acres purchased Thursday from the state’s largest private landowner will expand California’s park system, perhaps by year’s end, officials said. 

The 731 acres along the state-designated Wild and Scenic South Yuba River was acquired from Sierra Pacific Industries for $3.56 million by the Trust for Public Land, which will sell it to the state for the same price as soon as Proposition 40 funds become available, said trust spokeswoman Mary Menees. 

Voters approved the bond initiative in March, “and this important acquisition is already delivering on its promise,” state Resources Secretary Mary Nichols said in a statement. 

The property will expand popular South Yuba River State Park. 

The purchase was made with a low-interest loan from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.  

The trust plans to repay the loan with the Proposition 40 money, along with contributions it is seeking with help from the Sierra Fund and the South Yuba River Citizens League. 

The groups praised Sierra Pacific Industries for not logging the site for more than two years, even after a land-exchange agreement expired in December 2000.  

The Anderson-based company now will use the money to buy timberland elsewhere. 

The sale “reflects our commitment to creating a balance between wild land preservation, economic investment and responsible forest management,” company President A.A. “Red” Emmerson said in a statement. 

The land sale is part of an umbrella agreement announced last summer in which the trust plans to buy and preserve up to 30,000 acres of Sierra Pacific’s timberland. 

The trust, the U.S. Forest Service and other groups are trying to convince the timber giant to sell, trade or otherwise safeguard land it is preparing to log along a section of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.  

The timber stands on its land northwest of Lake Tahoe, near Sierra City.