Valdosta Daily Times

November 2, 2013

Big Clinch land transaction

More than 21,000 acres sold by Rayonier

Kay Harris
The Valdosta Daily Times

--- — Conservation Forestry, LLC, a timber investment management organization, or TIMO, purchased more than 21,000 acres recently in Clinch County from Rayonier. The land, named as the “Fargo tract” by Rayonier, is adjacent to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

The closing date for the transaction, according to Rayonier, was Oct. 24.

A spokesperson for the company, Russell Schweiss, declined to disclose the sale price of the land, saying that as a public company, the size of the transaction did not rise to the level subject to disclosure rules.

However, according to the Georgia real estate search engine, qpublic, the land sold on Aug. 4 for $217,082,433 as part of a multiple parcel sale from Rayonier Forest Resources to Timberland Holding Company Atlantic Inc. By examining the various parcels provided on a map from Rayonier and comparing it to the qpublic parcel map, the land’s tax value is approximately $660 per acre, and unless the sale price also included other parcels outside the Fargo tract, the sale price is approximately $9,700 per acre.

Schweiss said Rayonier was pleased that the land would stay as working forest land with active timber operations while also preserving the wildlife habitat.

In a press release, the company states that the Fargo tract plays a significant role in one of the largest contiguous wildlife corridors east of the Mississippi River, with 27 miles abutting the wildlife refuge and six miles of frontage on the Suwanee River.

Schweiss said Conservation Forestry, LLC holds title to the land through a related LLC, but it’s unclear if that LLC is the Timberland Holding Company listed as the tract’s current owners.

Although this was a large transaction, Schweiss said Rayonier still holds around 700,000 acres in Georgia and the Fargo tract is just a small portion of a 167,000 acre tract that the company initially purchased.

The company owns 2.4 million acres of timber and land in the United States.

Rayonier is structured as a real estate investment trust, or REIT, with timber operations in Fernandina Beach, Fla. and Jesup, Ga., among others.

Conservation Forestry LLC is an investment organization that specializes in “aligning private equity with conservation capital for the purpose of acquiring and managing large forest landscapes,” according to the release.