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Timber family buys 30,000 acres of forest near Gualala

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A swath of coveted timberland near the town of Gualala is being sold to a Northern California family whose existing forest product interests include the Redwood Empire sawmills in Philo and Cloverdale, where logs from the site have been processed for some 30 years.
The Roger Burch family, owner of Redwood Empire and its parent corporation, Pacific States Industries Inc. in San Jose, is expected to close escrow on the property in June, taking possession of nearly 30,000 acres of mixed redwood and Douglas fir at the mouth of the Gualala River currently owned by Gualala Redwoods Inc.
Burch, who has long had timber holdings in Sonoma and Mendocino counties as well as the Bay Area, said he intends to continue what he called GRI’s intelligent management of the site.
“We think that property has been managed as well as any property in California — better than any property that we’re aware of elsewhere — and it’s our intention to practice the same forestry that’s been practiced there,” he said.
Reaction to the sale has been mixed, however, with some expressing disappointment the land will remain in the hands of a commercial timber company rather than conservation interests that made an unsuccessful bid for the property.
Chris Poehlmann, president of Friends of the Gualala River, a local nonprofit, said the watershed’s recovery from decades of logging depends on what he called “a lighter hand of somebody who has those kinds of principles and methods and techniques and attitudes toward the forest versus a commercial timber company.”
But many in the environmental community said the fact the buyer is a family-owned company with a local presence is a good omen, especially given the recent rise of timber investment funds and the high-yield pressures that could come into play.
“If you log all your trees you have an empty mill,” said Chris Kelly, California program director for The Conservation Fund, which led a consortium of conservation agencies that also bid on the property. “If you have an empty mill, you can’t sell to the lumber yard of Orchard Supply. So I think there’s an argument to be made that this is a healthy sign of investment in sustainable timber management.
Read more via Timber family buys 30,000 acres of forest near | The Press Democrat.