Update on Molalla River Property Acquisition

We are saddened to report that an acquisition Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District has worked toward for nearly two-and-a-half years has fallen through.

Clackamas SWCD will not be acquiring this 87-acre property along a mile of the Molalla River.

Where is the property?

We have often referred to this property as the gateway to the Table Rock Wilderness. Portions of the property adjoin the Bureau of Land Management corridor on the way to the Table Rock Wilderness.

What is the property like?

Douglas fir and Western red cedar forest dominates the rugged and rocky landscape, through which the Molalla River flows.

The diversity of habitats on the property support a variety of wild creatures. We captured photos and videos of a bobcat, coyote, spotted skunk, and bald eagle, and other animals.

Steps

Funding

Near the end of calendar year 2014, Clackamas SWCD was asked to sponsor an application for acquisition funding through the Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program. With only a few weeks before the grant application deadline, we completed and submitted an application. The application was scored and ranked in 2015, falling below the funding cutoff line.

Later in 2015, a landowner asked us to resubmit the application in the next grant round. Clackamas SWCD invested significant time and effort in developing a stronger application which did receive a funding offer in September 2016.

The funds come from a federal source and expire at the end of the federal fiscal year. For this project, that meant that Clackamas SWCD had one year from the time we received the funding offer to close the purchase of the property.

Why acquisition?

The property includes some old growth trees that are more than 350 years old. A significant portion of the property was at risk of being logged. An easement or acquisition were two options to pay the landowners for the value of the timber without actually cutting the trees and reducing the wildlife habitat values.

Clackamas SWCD did propose an easement as a way to provide some funding to the landowners. This option would also mean that all of the property would remain owned by the landowners.

However, the value of an easement would be based on the timber value, but an acquisition valuation would be based on the land and the timber. The landowner who initiated contact with Clackamas SWCD asked that we propose acquisition of the property.

Information and documents

A new survey was completed. The value of the land and timber was determined using a “Yellow Book” appraisal process. Various documents required by the funder or needed for the purchase of the property were developed, all requiring legal help and review.

In June 2017, Clackamas SWCD made an offer to purchase the property, with the value based on the Yellow Book appraisal previously completed.

Closing the sale

Signatures of all landowners were required for closing. Unfortunately, all landowners did not agree to sign the final agreement and the funding window closed.

Partners

We wish to thank the many organizations and individuals who supported our work to acquire this unique property. Their assistance was invaluable as we rebuilt the grant application and worked toward closing the purchase of the Molalla River property.

 

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