None of the Friends’ list of 13 environmental and community concerns and values (https://friendsofthewhitesalmon.org/2021/02/pending-sds-land-sale/) is addressed or supported in this brochure. On the contrary, such statements as “opportunity to increase harvest level,” “resulting in production levels below potential,” “mature forest inventory with 85% over 50 years old,” and “higher and better use” indicate this sale will violate some or all of those values. No surprise: a review of this firm’s history, language used on its website (https://pwpartners.com/), and partner biographies shows quite clearly that money and profit is the sole concern of this organization. Its investment advice makes little distinction about the quality of its client enterprises, other than profit potential — guns or butter, all the same to them. We should expect forests and their trees to be viewed solely as resources to be exploited, as are communities.
P/W/P is a large international investment advisory firm, based in New York City. They also operate separate capital management and investment businesses. The firm has advised in more than $1 trillion worth of asset transactions in diverse fields, including big pharmaceuticals, big fossil fuels (heavily), big mining, big financial, and big food. Familiar names include Occidental Petroleum, Shell Oil, Estee Lauder Cosmetics, Pay Pal, Morgan Stanley, the Carlyle Group, Pacific Gas & Electric, Hostess Brands, Sprint, TMobile, Prudential Financial, Gulfport Energy, Pabst Brewing, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Del Monte, Monsanto, Re/Max, New York Life, HP, Google, Blackrock, Pepsi, Delta Airlines, and Office Depot. Of special local interest is P/W/P’s involvement in the sale of Portland’s Arc Logistics to Zenith Energy, currently a major issue in fossil fuel exports and the passage of oil trains through the Columbia Gorge.
P/W/P’s specialty has been mergers and assets, which include some very large projects — such as the AT&T/Time Warner merger ($109 billion). The firm has grown steadily since its origin in 2006.
A review of this company’s hundreds of clients and specialties shows this evidently to be P/W/P’s second venture into forest real estate. Let’s help make it their last.
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.
Perella Weinberg Partners (“PWP”), a company comprised of partners and analysts from New York, is advising on the sale of SDS. They have created and are circulating an attractive, colorful, glossy introductory brochure entitled Project Steelhead – Summary Overview, outlining key investment highlights — a feathered lure, so to speak — for those interested in the opportunity to invest.
As SDS prepares to sell their corporate assets, local community groups, including Friends of the White Salmon, are engaging the community to bring “about awareness of the potential impacts the sale could have on the Gorge region.” The March 2, 2021, Columbia Gorge News article by Jacob Bertram outlines many of these concerns. How the assets are sold and to whom they are sold could impact the community economically as well as have negative impacts on timberland and critical habit into the future.
Friends of the White Salmon encourages you to become involved. FWSR invites you to attend the Premiere showing of Joe Roth’s Uprooted, a one-hour Facebook event that will explore the impacts the SDS sale will have on the community. This Zoom event will be held March 14th, 2021, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Rumors in the fall of 2019 that SDS was going to sell its mill in Bingen, Washington, and/or its 101,000 acres of timberland were confirmed by their press release on September 21, 2020. Beginning September 30, 2020, Sandra DeMent wrote a series of articles printed in The Goldendale Sentinel providing an informative historical background of the company and tentative proposals for its future. An interview with the new CEO, covered in the December 30, 2020 article, confirms that SDS intends to sell the entire company in the near future. The sale of SDS has potentially large, negative consequences for many aspects of life for the people and critters here in the Gorge.