Plum Creek wants Vermont land

Posted Sept. 16, 2008, at 9:13 p.m.

Plum Creek Timber Co. plans to expand its land holdings in New England.

The Seattle-based company has signed a purchase and sale agreement on more than 86,200 acres in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. If completed, the deal would be Plum Creek’s first purchase in Vermont but not in the region.

The company owns approximately 32,000 acres of timberland just across the border in northern New Hampshire and more than 900,000 acres in Maine.

Essex Timber Co. bought most of the Vermont land in 1999 from Champion International Paper. At the time the state of Vermont and the Freeman Foundation paid $8.5 million for easements on the land that guarantee traditional uses such as logging and public access for recreational use.

Those guarantees will remain in place under Plum Creek’s ownership. Mark Doty, resource manager with Plum Creek in Maine, said little would change if the deal goes through.

“It’s a big chunk of land in Vermont,” Doty said. “It fits right in with our core business, which is forestry.”

Plum Creek is the nation’s largest private landowner, with more than 8 million acres across the country. The company started out West but has been steadily increasing its holdings in the Northeast and Southeast during the past decade.

In Maine, the company is best known these days for its proposal to build nearly 1,000 house lots and two large resorts on 20,000 acres in the Moosehead Lake region. State regulators are expected to complete their recommended changes to Plum Creek’s plan next week.

Essex Timber advertised the Vermont land for sale at $26 million, but Doty declined to give a sale figure.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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