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291,000 Acres Of Private Timberlands In Northwest Montana Change Hands

291,000 acres of private timberlands in northwest Montana have a new owner. Washington state-based Green Diamond closed the deal with Southern Pine Plantations this week.

The 291,000 acres is roughly half of what Southern Pine purchased from Weyerhaeuser early last year. The purchase concerned locals who have enjoyed public access to the lands in Flathead, Sanders and Lincoln counties for years.

Green Diamond COO Neal Ewald says the company plans to manage its property as working timberlands. He says easement deals to secure public access to hundreds of thousands of acres that partially sit on Green Diamond’s property will move forward, as will past agreements with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks that allow public access.

"Since that’s the end goal, we’ve also agreed to continue to do block management that would then allow public access to go as it has in the past."

Ewald says Green Diamond will work over the next year or so to inventory viable timber stands on its property, but says for now, the company will likely maintain the annual timber harvest at around 7 million to 10 million board feet. He says that number will be subject to change as Green Diamond sets long-term goals for the property.

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Aaron is Montana Public Radio's Flathead reporter.