Pat Arnold, on behalf of Friends of White Salmon, has submitted the following response to SDS’s “Project Steelhead” solicitation:
Friends of the White Salmon River
Statement on SDS sale opening brochure May 4, 2021
“Project Steelhead” reads the headline on the glossy brochure announcing the opening of the sale of SDS. Perella Weinberg Partners, (P/W/P) a large international investment advisory firm, based in New York City, prepared this document to market SDS to potential investors.
“Key Investment Highlights” tells investors where the profits are to be found.
· “potential for significant harvest” meaning, of course, that the new owner can cut a lot of trees really fast.
· “Higher and Better Use” sale, meaning selling parcels along the White Salmon and other waterways for high-end residential use with “river views” and “river access”. Shoreline buffers will disappear.
· “Mature forest Inventory with 85% over 50 years old, and potential for significant harvest”, meaning not only can the new owner cut fast, they can cut high-value trees.
NOWHERE is there mention of a chance to protect the environment, store carbon, or help the community. SDS is nothing more than a bunch of opportunities to make lots of money – all the parts are put on display, but the sum of those parts, a firm that has been a good steward of the land and a good community partner, is nowhere to be seen.
So now we know what we look like, our forest, our fish, our roads, our jobs, and our community to this large investment firm, now speaking for SDS. Fodder for investment profits is what we look like to them. You can read about P/W/P here.
We are not surprised at this profit before people, corporations before community approach. We had hoped that SDS would pay some mind to the needs and desires of this community and these watersheds that have supported them for so long.
SDS has for decades refused to take the simplest step to protect fish habitat on the Lower White Salmon Wild & Scenic segment. That step would have been to hold to their agreement to sell 700 acres into public hands to protect the river. They first agreed, then walked away. Profits before fish, they said then, and they say again now.
“Project Steelhead” indeed. It is hard to comprehend how this name could have been chosen for this sale. Hubris? Blindness? Ignorance? Or just plain venality, hoping that the name of this magnificent, courageous creature will disguise the harm being done to the species and the world which it needs to survive.
We are deeply saddened to be writing this. We have spent many hours over many months working with the hope of a more humane outcome. The sales brochure makes it absolutely clear that the outcome will be maximum profits for SDS and for investors, at whatever price the rest of us will pay. Weep with us.