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/.
Patti Case, Public Affairs Manager Green Diamond Resource Company
Big News!!! Today, on September 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.” Read the full announcement here.
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.