State considers sale of Columbia River parcels

The Oregon Department of State Lands is evaluating the potential sale of state properties near Astoria.
Mateusz Perkowski

Capital Press

Published on February 13, 2014 8:49AM

SALEM — Oregon’s Department of State Lands is considering the sale of several properties near Astoria, possibly for a log storage facility.

The State Land Board, meeting here Feb.11, directed the agency to evaluate selling the parcels, which total 90 acres along the Columbia River. A decision on the sale will be made this year, possibly as early as this spring.

Last year, the Warrenton Fiber Co., a local wood chip and bark producer, inquired about buying the property.

Dave Nygaard, a co-owner of the firm, said the company’s immediate interest in the property is for log storage and a possible dock site.

The company leases about 40 acres from the City of Warrenton and occasionally runs out of room, he said.

Warrenton Fiber has been looking at the state property for years and would prefer to own the land rather than lease it, Nygaard said.

The Department of State Lands said the property could provide an “expansion area for its (the company’s) fiber wood products and shipping,” according to an agency document.

Warrenton Fiber primarily chips logs for sale to paper mills, Nygaard said. 

The agency doesn’t typically conduct direct sales, but may decide to put the parcels up for auction as early as this spring, Jim Paul, assistant director of the department’s land management division, said.

The timing of the potential auction will depend on the due diligence process, which includes getting the property values appraised, he said.

The parcels were created with soil dredged from the Columbia River for navigation channels by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1948 and 1976.

The property was transferred from federal to state ownership about 20 years ago, with the goal of developing the land into a deep water port, Paul said.

“That plan really hasn’t panned out,” he said, noting a lack of interest from developers. “It’s all dependent on the private sector.”

While some adjoining property is leased to Clatsop County Community College, Paul said the parcels in question aren’t generating any revenue for the state.

The department believes it’s “not probable” that an industrial company would want to develop the properties while leasing them, according to an agency document.

The parcels are “one of the last large-lot industrial sites on the deep-river channel” and have access to Highway 30 and rail transportation, the document said.

The State Lands Department can consider broader public benefits — such as fishing, navigation and recreation — in deciding whether to sell, not just the potential revenues, Paul said.

If the parcels are sold, the private owner would still need to pay the state rent for docks or other facilities built on the water, he said.


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