The nonprofit Redwood Forest Foundation, with 100% financing from Bank of America, has purchased 50,000 acres of redwood forest in northern Mendocino County for $65 million. The forest tract is about 25 miles north of Fort Bragg, adjacent to the Lost Coast. Much of the debt will be paid down through the sale of a conservation easement to another nonprofit group.
The group plans to use the land for commercial timber harvesting, while protecting the land from development. Art Hardwood, president of the Redwood Forest Foundation, explained that the pressure to sell forest lands is high in Northern California, and the group wanted to prevent the subdivision of the area into smaller parcels. This area, called Andersonia back in the heyday of logging in the county, is located to the west of Highway 101 between the towns of Piercy and Leggett. (The famous Lost Coast and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park are located just to the west of the area on the coast.)
Foundation officials plan to let the land rest for 8 years, and then begin sustainable timber harvesting. They will never log more than 3% of the area at a time, and their intention is to eventually have a cap on harvesting.
The Foundation plans to sell the conservation easement to the Conservation Fund, which in turn plans to purchase the easement with state funds approved last year in Proposition 84. According to Chris Kelly, manager of the Conservation Fund’s California operations, “Our intention is to have an agreement allowing no subdivision, development or conversion to nonforest uses, and possibly there will be a cap on harvesting.”