Twin Creeks Timber, The Conservation Fund and WKO to Acquire SDS Lumber and Timber Companies

Twin Creeks Timber, The Conservation Fund and WKO to Acquire SDS Lumber and Timber Companies

The acquiring entities bring Northwest connections and deep expertise in timberlands, forest conservation and mill operations

BINGEN, Wash., Sept. 30, 2021 – A consortium of three entities – Seattle-based Twin Creeks Timber, LLC, The Conservation Fund, and Carson, Washington-based WKO, Inc. – have agreed to acquire SDS Lumber and Timber Companies. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Included in the transaction are the lumber and plywood mills, associated assets in Bingen, Wash., and over 96,000 acres of timberlands with environmental and community importance near the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon.
“We are pleased to reach an agreement with this group of organizations. Each of these entities brings deep expertise. Under their ownership and leadership there will be ongoing positive economic and environmental impacts for Bingen, the Gorge and the entire Northwest,” said Jeff Webber, president for SDS Lumber Companies. The SDS board went through a one-year process to evaluate a transition and sale of the company.

Green Diamond Resource Company, manager and investor in Silver Creek Capital Management’s Twin Creeks Timber, LLC, will acquire and manage the majority of the timberlands as working forests to support the local economy while upholding their long-standing practice of forest stewardship. “We want to ensure these timberlands will continue to provide economic and ecological benefits for generations to come,” said Douglas Reed, President of Green Diamond Resource Company.

The Conservation Fund will acquire a portion of the SDS properties and manage the conservation easement process and community engagement to ensure that lands with the highest natural, climate and community values are conserved. Larry Selzer, CEO of The Conservation Fund said, “We believe the SDS timberlands represent a once in a lifetime opportunity to demonstrate the balance of conservation and economic sustainability, and we will bring all of our accumulated forestry and real estate skills, our financial strength, and our operating success to this effort.”

Wilkins, Kaiser & Olsen, Inc. (WKO) will acquire and operate the Bingen mill and its related divisions under its newly formed subsidiary, Mt. Adams Forest Products. WKO operates a modern state of the art sawmill and planer mill with boiler and dry kilns, specializing in high quality kiln dried dimensional lumber. WKO’s affiliated company also owns and operates Mt. Hood Forest Products near Hood River, Oregon, which is a green Douglas-fir dimensional lumber producer. Between the two mills, production exceeds 300 million bd. ft. annually. “On behalf of our companies, I’d like to share how excited we are to acquire SDS Lumber. We have deep roots in Washington and Oregon and know well the positive legacy of SDS. We look forward to welcoming employees into our organizations, and shaping the future of these facilities,” said Bill Wilkins, CEO of WKO.

Additional information will be shared at the time of closing.

About Twin Creeks Timber, LLC
Silver Creek Capital Management formed Twin Creeks Timber, LLC to bring together sophisticated institutional investors and a strong operating company as manager and investor to purchase timberland across the United States. With over $1.5B in capitalization, the fund will own over 650,000 acres between the U.S. South and the Pacific Northwest with the purchase of the SDS timberlands. Learn more at www.silvercreekcapital.com

About Green Diamond Resource Company
Green Diamond Resource Company is a privately held forest products company with roots dating back to 1890. Today, the company owns working forest lands in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and California. A subsidiary, Green Diamond Management Company, provides forest management services in the U.S. South and West. All lands owned and managed by Green Diamond are independently audited and certified for sustainable forest management. More information about Green Diamond’s environmental leadership may be found at www.greendiamond.com.

About The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund is a national non-profit that works with public, private and non-profit partners to protect America’s legacy of land and water resources through land acquisition and sustainable community and economic development, emphasizing the integration of economic and environmental goals. Founded in 1985, The Conservation Fund has worked in all 50 states to protect over 8.5 million acres valued at over $7 billion. Through its Working Forest Fund®, The Conservation Fund has acquired more than 760,000 acres of working forestland in 18 states and deployed $800 million of capital to help mitigate climate change, strengthen rural economies and protect natural ecosystems. Learn more at www.conservationfund.org and www.workingforestfund.org.

About WKO, Inc and its Affiliates
WKO, Inc. started operations in Carson, Washington in 1962. The company has continued to grow and improve since that time through a steadfast commitment to reinvestment in facilities and technology. Mt. Hood Forest Products is an affiliated facility and began operating under company ownership in 2004. The companies look forward to a continued focus on safety and quality production with the acquisition of SDS. Learn more at https://wkoinc.com/.

About SDS Companies
SDS Lumber was established in 1946 by Wally and Bruce Stevenson and Frank Daubenspeck on the banks of the Columbia River in Bingen, Washington. They incrementally grew the business from one small green lumber mill by adding a plywood mill, a boiler with electricity generation, dry kilns, a whole log chipping mill and several versions of sawmill upgrades. Steady growth and re-investment into the mill and the continual accumulation of timberlands made SDS Lumber Company a driving force and major employer in the Columbia Gorge community. Learn more at https://sdslumber.com/.

Media contacts

Consortium
Patti Case, Public Affairs Manager Green Diamond Resource Company
PCase@greendiamond.com
360-790-6182

SDS Companies
Liz Fuller
Lfuller@gardcommunications.com
503-552-5067

Uprooted: The SDS Timber Company Story

 

Locally owned and operated SDS Lumber Company is for sale – mill, land, business, and equipment. Joel Roth’s film UPROOTED explores the local impacts through interviews with Rainer Hummel, retired from the Washington State DNR, David Powell, formerly an archeologist with the Yakama Nation, Bill Weiler, wildlife biologist, and artist/author Joy Markgraf. The future of over 100,000 acres of land and 350 employees is at stake.

Statement on the SDS Lumber Company Sale

Friends of the White Salmon River is deeply rooted in the White Salmon watershed and in Klickitat and Skamania Counties. Activists since 1976, we’ve worked hard to protect the river. SDS Lumber Company is also rooted here, acquiring 100,000 acres of timberland over 75 years and managing that land and the mill for long-term sustainability.

SDS announced upcoming changes for the company’s future: All company assets, including timberland and the mill, will be placed on the market in the spring of 2021. This news, especially at this time, is shocking and raises serious concerns about the effect of the sale on its employees, local businesses, and the forest. SDS owns timberland in five counties, including Hood River, Wasco, Skamania, Yakima, and Klickitat, so their decision about future ownership will have regional effects.

SDS provides significant benefits to the community. It is a major economic engine. They directly employ about 300 people, and they contract with local timber operators. SDS owns the land in White Salmon where our supermarket and library are located. Their business is crucial to ancillary and supporting businesses. Innumerable community events and charities have benefited from SDS donations and support.

Equally, SDS forest parcels are deeply woven into the life of the area. The parcels are scattered throughout the region, often adjoining public land and along waterways. People hike, hunt, launch their boats, gather food, and enjoy wildlife observation on SDS lands. Many animal species utilize the habitat, corridors, and access to water provided by these parcels. 

Our region is noted for biological diversity. Much of the SDS land plays a role in maintaining that diversity. SDS land is concentrated in watersheds that are crucial for salmon, steelhead, native trout, lamprey, and other native fish species. SDS lands in the Rattlesnake Creek watershed are critical for support of many of these fish species. SDS land also includes important oak habitat. Many of the seeps, springs, and tributaries that feed the White Salmon River originate on or cross SDS land.

SDS’ long-term/long-rotation timber management provides significant benefits to humans and wildlife. The company is notable for compliance with timber harvest regulations, including those concerning cultural resources. Leaving aside the question of whether those regulations sufficiently protect the environment, which they do not, it is clearly preferable for a company to comply with existing laws, and SDS largely has.

We know that the company has a responsibility to its shareholders; we hope and expect that responsibility can be met and still ensure the best possible outcome for the land, the community, the forest, and SDS. We think it is possible to preserve the Stevenson family legacy and to meet the shareholder financial goals while supporting the community and the watersheds where the company operates.

Protection of the watershed and the river is the mission of Friends of the White Salmon River, so of course our thoughts turn first to those issues. The potential negative outcomes are easy to see: The sale of SDS lands has the potential to lead to short-term timber harvest, followed by parcel fragmentation and residential development, leading to environmental stress and a host of potential negative changes.

The continued operation of the mill has been a driving force in maintaining the long-term harvest rotation practices used by SDS. We value the knowledge and skill and well-being of the many SDS employees — our friends and neighbors. For these and many other reasons, we would prefer to see the SDS business continued as a vertically-integrated forest and mill enterprise.

As a local environmental group, we do not presume to speak for others. We have, however, engaged in many conversations with people from all walks of life in the region who will be affected by the decision SDS makes. There is a high level of local concern about outcomes.

We are also speaking to those companies and organizations interested in acquiring the assets of the SDS Lumber Company. These are some of the concerns we’ve heard.

  • Preserving the current business structure with forest land, mill, and equipment under one ownership
  • Maintaining healthy forest conditions with diverse tree species
  • Keeping economic benefits in the community
  • Providing long-term habitat and wildlife corridors
  • Protecting cultural resources, including treaty rights on ceded land
  • Preserving public access to the land and streams, continuing current public access policies
  • Storing carbon in the forest and land and using forest management practices to improve climate conditions
  • Supporting the local economy with stable employment opportunities with benefits
  • Implement forest practices for salmon recovery, including maintenance of water quality
  • Exercising land management practices that protect ground and surface water supplies for drinking water
  • Strengthening wildfire prevention at the landscape level and for residential safety
  • Completing the promised transfer of SDS parcels within the Wild and Scenic river segment
  • Avoiding forest fragmentation and parcel development.

We think public discussion, including local elected officials, is essential. An opportunity to express concerns and work toward the future together is both empowering and reassuring.

We invite people to start this discussion on our webpage. Follow this link and leave your comments and thoughts. We will seek ways to make on-going discussion productive and useful.

We encourage SDS to share what information they can over these next months and to energize the power of the community toward positive results for all.

Spring Creek Update #1

Spring Creek Update #1

FWSR submitted two comments on the Spring Creek FPA.

One, written by our attorney, addresses the ways in which the FPA fails to meet legal requirements, including triggers for classification as a Class IV-S requiring a full SEPA.  2020 07 20 Public Comment BRICKLIN & NEWMAN

Our second comment addresses environmental damage that could result from the logging as proposed.  For example, there are three known Western Gray Squirrel (WGS) nests in the area proposed to be logged.  WGS  are in a category known as Priority Habitat Species, along with some species on site.  DNR timber harvest rules do not protect these habitats.  FWSR comment-Spring Creek FPA 2706931

As we have said before, the DNR rules for timber harvest do not adequately protect things that are required under other state laws to be protected.  A SEPA process might produce a higher level of protection.  Might is the operative word.  The best protection is that logging just doesn’t happen on this parcel.