MINNESOTA - American lumber giant PotlatchDeltic has sold 70,000 acres of Minnesota forestland to the Conservation Fund for nearly $48 million. The sale marks one of the state's largest-ever land conservation efforts.
The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit, said it plans to transfer ownership of the land to state, county, local, and tribal governments over the next decade.
“This is really good news for Minnesota,” said Kim Berns-Melhus, state director of the Conservation Fund.
The forested acres are mostly made up of red pine, aspen and spruce, she said. The land will be open to the public for hiking, backpacking, and other activities.
“This transaction represents a significant milestone in our long-term strategy to maximize shareholder value through rural real estate sales,” said Mike Covey, chairman and chief executive officer of PotlatchDeltic. “Proceeds from this transaction will further enhance our already strong liquidity position and flexibility. Our Minnesota ownership was approximately 330,000 acres when we began our rural land sale program over a dozen years ago. The timberlands that we currently own in Minnesota are heavily weighted to more remote areas, ideal for conservation and working forest protection. Nearly all of our ownership in the state is now under contract with a series of closings scheduled to occur through 2022.”
Potlatch, Minnesota's largest private landowner before the sale, once owned more than 330,000 acres of forest in the state. After this sale and others, it's down to about 20,000.
The company will continue to operate a sawmill in the region, which produces spruce, pine, and fir lumber.
Potlatch recently reported record-breaking third quarter sales after a period of decline.
Potlatch and Deltic Timber Corp. merged early 2018, forming a wood products and forestry behemoth. PotlatchDeltic employs more than 1,500 and serves more than 200 customers. Its lumber capacity is heavily weighted towards high-margin southern yellow pine lumber, with over half of the company’s capacity being produced at its three southern mills. The company manages nearly 2 million acres of land and operates six sawmills and an industrial-grade plywood mill.
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