Tuesday, November 3, 1998
Bowater selling forest land to investor By DAVID CONNERTY-MARIN
Staff Writer

Copyright 1998 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

In the third major timberland deal in the state in four weeks, Bowater Inc. announced Monday it is selling 656,000 acres in western Maine for $155 million to McDonald Invest- ment Company Inc. of Birmingham, Ala.

The three sales together amount to about 2.5 million acres or more than 10 percent of all land in the state, and fuel concerns by environmentalists and recreationalists that much of the state's remotest lands could become fodder for developers.

"We know nothing about the company and can only hope they're a responsible owner of a chunk of Maine," said Pete Didisheim, advocacy director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. He did not criticize the sale itself, saying the larger issue is the recent frequency of large land transfers.

"The state is ill-equipped to handle these," Didisheim said, because there are no funds for purchasing land or conservation easements "that would ensure long-term protection of some really spectacular places in northern Maine."

Gov. Angus King proposed purchasing land or easements on more than 100,000 acres of land from Sappi Fine Papers over the summer, but Sappi wasn't interested, instead selling nearly a million acres to Plum Creek Timber Co. of Seattle in October. Plum Creek has offered 2,600 acres covering 60 miles of shoreline on Moosehead and Flagstaff lakes.

Two weeks ago, Bowater announced another sale of nearly 1million acres to J.D. Irving Ltd. of New Brunswick.

The sale announced Monday involves a massive chunk of land west of Chesuncook Lake to the Canadian border. The most sensitive areas include shorefront properties on several lakes, including the western shore of Chesuncook and the northern tip of Moosehead Lake, about 30 miles northwest of Millinocket.

Several environmentalists and sportsmen said Monday they were relieved to hear that Wagner Forest Management Ltd. of Lyme, N.H. will manage the lands for McDonald.

"I am very familiar with Wagner. They are one of the best forest land managers in this region," said Kent Wommack, executive director of the Maine chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

Wommack said he is not familiar with McDonald, but has been told the company is interested in long-term investment and wants to develop a comprehensive conservation plan.

Hank Swan, chairman of Wagner, is a board member of The Nature Conservancy's New Hampshire chapter.

Swan said Monday that his company already manages about 380,000 acres of timberland in the state for Hancock Timber Resource Group. With the new lands, Wagner will manage a total of 2.2 million acres in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Ontario.

"The land was acquired for long-term timberland investment," Swan said. "Our objective has been to continue traditional uses of the property."

In its five years managing Hancock's lands, Wagner has sold only a few isolated properties, Swan said, that were too distant from the rest of its lands.

Swan said the company intends to develop a resource protection plan over the next few years with experts and environmental groups such as The Nature Conservancy. He said he is open to conservation easements that would allow continued timber cutting but prevent future building on the lands, and limit forestry in sensitive areas.

George Smith, executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, praised Wagner's management of Hancock's lands.

"I have been very impressed with what Hancock has done with its lands in Maine," he said.

Smith said the trend toward the ownership of timberlands by investment companies rather than paper companies is a good thing.

"These are companies looking to invest in forest lands," he said. "They're not here buying recreational property. They're buying fiber.

"I think they have a long-term strategy based on sustainable forestry practices and keeping their lands open for public recreation," he said.

He said his biggest concern is what will happen with the rest of Bowater's lands. Each new sale is a potential negative for land use in Maine.

Gordon Manuel, director of government affairs for Bowater Inc., said the transaction is part of the company's strategy to use money from the sale of its lands to reduce its debts and reinvest in company operations.

The company has announced a $220 million modernization plan for its Great Northern Paper mill in East Millinocket, and put its nearby Millinocket mill up for sale. Under terms of the agreement with McDonald, the Alabama company will supply the two mills with wood fiber.

Susan Butler, library assistant, contributed research to this story.

Tuesday, November 3, 1998

 

Bowater selling forest land to investor

by David Connerty-Marin
Staff Writer

Copyright © 1998 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

In the third major timberland deal in the state in four weeks, Bowater Inc. announced Monday it is selling 656,000 acres in western Maine for
$155 million to McDonald Invest- ment Company Inc. of Birmingham, Ala.

The three sales together amount to about 2.5 million acres or more than 10 percent of all land in the state, and fuel concerns by environmentalists
and recreationalists that much of the state's remotest lands could become fodder for developers.

"We know nothing about the company and can only hope they're a responsible owner of a chunk of Maine," said Pete Didisheim, advocacy
director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. He did not criticize the sale itself, saying the larger issue is the recent frequency of large land
transfers.

"The state is ill-equipped to handle these," Didisheim said, because there are no funds for purchasing land or conservation easements "that would
ensure long-term protection of some really spectacular places in northern Maine."

Gov. Angus King proposed purchasing land or easements on more than 100,000 acres of land from Sappi Fine Papers over the summer, but
Sappi wasn't interested, instead selling nearly a million acres to Plum Creek Timber Co. of Seattle in October. Plum Creek has offered 2,600 acres
covering 60 miles of shoreline on Moosehead and Flagstaff lakes.

Two weeks ago, Bowater announced another sale of nearly 1million acres to J.D. Irving Ltd. of New Brunswick.

The sale announced Monday involves a massive chunk of land west of Chesuncook Lake to the Canadian border. The most sensitive areas include
shorefront properties on several lakes, including the western shore of Chesuncook and the northern tip of Moosehead Lake, about 30 miles
northwest of Millinocket.

Several environmentalists and sportsmen said Monday they were relieved to hear that Wagner Forest Management Ltd. of Lyme, N.H. will
manage the lands for McDonald.

"I am very familiar with Wagner. They are one of the best forest land managers in this region," said Kent Wommack, executive director of the
Maine chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

Wommack said he is not familiar with McDonald, but has been told the company is interested in long-term investment and wants to develop a
comprehensive conservation plan.

Hank Swan, chairman of Wagner, is a board member of The Nature Conservancy's New Hampshire chapter.

Swan said Monday that his company already manages about 380,000 acres of timberland in the state for Hancock Timber Resource Group. With
the new lands, Wagner will manage a total of 2.2 million acres in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Ontario.

"The land was acquired for long-term timberland investment," Swan said. "Our objective has been to continue traditional uses of the property."

In its five years managing Hancock's lands, Wagner has sold only a few isolated properties, Swan said, that were too distant from the rest of its
lands.

Swan said the company intends to develop a resource protection plan over the next few years with experts and environmental groups such as The
Nature Conservancy. He said he is open to conservation easements that would allow continued timber cutting but prevent future building on the
lands, and limit forestry in sensitive areas.

George Smith, executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, praised Wagner's management of Hancock's lands.

"I have been very impressed with what Hancock has done with its lands in Maine," he said.

Smith said the trend toward the ownership of timberlands by investment companies rather than paper companies is a good thing.

"These are companies looking to invest in forest lands," he said. "They're not here buying recreational property. They're buying fiber.

"I think they have a long-term strategy based on sustainable forestry practices and keeping their lands open for public recreation," he said.

He said his biggest concern is what will happen with the rest of Bowater's lands. Each new sale is a potential negative for land use in Maine.

Gordon Manuel, director of government affairs for Bowater Inc., said the transaction is part of the company's strategy to use money from the sale
of its lands to reduce its debts and reinvest in company operations.

The company has announced a $220 million modernization plan for its Great Northern Paper mill in East Millinocket, and put its nearby
Millinocket mill up for sale. Under terms of the agreement with McDonald, the Alabama company will supply the two mills with wood fiber.

Susan Butler, library assistant, contributed research to this story.