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Buyer of Weyerhaeuser's Montana lands identified

Posted: 6:15 PM, Dec 23, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-24 16:15:56-05
Weyerhaeuser Columbia Falls

MISSOULA — We've learned it's a Georgia-based timberlands company that will be purchasing Weyerhaeuser's Montana holdings, in a deal announced last week.

Weyerhaeuser made headlines three years ago when it decided to close its Columbia Falls mill not long after buying Plum Creek Timber in an $8 billion deal. It cited a "continued shortage" of logs to run the mill as the reason for the shutdown.

Last week, Weyerhaeuser announced it will sell 630,000 acres for $145 million in cash , saying the deal was part of an "ongoing effort to strategically optimize their timberland portfolio." However, the company didn't divulge the buyers name.

However, MTN News has now learned the buyer is Southern Pine Plantations, a Macon, Georgia-based firm specializing in rural land acquisitions and sales.

Southern Pines' local legal counsel, James Bowditch, released a statement to MTN News, confirming it had entered into a purchase and sale agreement with Weyerhaeuser to buy the timberlands.

He said while the company "can't provide specifics before the deal closes", SPP "has no plan to change the long-standing practices of its prior owners related to public access, forest management, grazing, existing outfitting agreements and conservation easements."

Weyerhaeuser expects the deal to close in the second quarter of 2020.

Below is the full statement from Bowditch:

In light of fast-developing speculation across the state, Southern Pine Plantations can confirm that we have entered into a purchase and sale agreement with Weyerhaeuser for its existing Montana timberlands. While we can’t provide specifics before the deal closes, SPP has no plan to change the long-standing practices of the prior owners related to public access, forest management, grazing, existing outfitting agreements and conservation easements, and other programs. Again, we can’t comment further at this time, but we felt it was in the public interest to provide this assurance to concerned Montanans.