Conservationists offer $150K to buy a forest, government sells it to loggers for $40K less

Originally published at:

“Bartlet is not a licensed timber buyer, so his offer was outside the sale and could not be considered as part of the bidding process.”

Lesson learned, I suppose. I wonder if a conservationist group would even be granted a buyer’s license if they went through the application procedure.


Let that be a lesson to you…paperwork and red tape are truly what’s important.




If you want to actually accomplish anything then yes they are. Sometimes it’s simpler to fail and blame The Man.


Well, it’s at least served as an interesting PR exercise to point out that Indiana’s forestry management is entirely about cutting the trees down.

If you’re not interested in doing that, Indiana’s forests are apparently not for you.

If you bid and don’t cut your allotted trees down within a certain time, you lose the rights and the state gets to sell them off again to someone who will cut down those trees.

Is there a high dwarf population in Indiana?


I think this tactic could work, seems like they fumbled it.

First: it’s a shame.

Second: the deal actually makes sense. 100 years of the land paying taxes is worth a LOT more than $150k. If the conservationists could have proposed like $500k or more then maybe their proposal would have made more economic sense.

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That’s messed up. I wonder what percentage of trees must be removed in order to prevent a breach of contract. I.e., could a group maintain ownership if they removed dead and diseased trees only? But then you’re talking about potentially big ongoing expenses.


Soo many questions…
Is this a bid to clear-cut the forest, or just trees selected by the state managers of the forest? Even a selective harvest tends to cause great damage to the ecosystem because of the roads made to get the trees out.
I suppose that the conservationists could pay the loggers to NOT cut the trees, but it looks like the state could simply re-sell the rights.
Economically, the bids aren’t strictly comparable, since the conservationists want to preserve the forest for 100 years and even if the timber company harvests the trees, the state could conduct another couple of harvests within that period of time. (although the time cost of money means that more harvests 30 and 60 years from now are worth much less today)


I suppose it sort of makes sense in context. A requirement to actually use the timber rights prevents a big company from buying up all the timber rights and ‘banking’ them, thereby allowing more competition.

Same with the licensed buyers rule. That apparently came in to stop widespread tree thefts (I love America sometimes) and ensure that only reputable (traceable) operators engaged in logging.


Could the logging company now turn around and sell the land to the conservation group, thus making a ckean $40K profit without the trouble of having to actually do anything?


According to the linked article, there seem to be some problems with that:

Antes said the $150,000 offer to preserve the forest is still on the table. He and Bartlet are working to set up a meeting with Holcomb to see if he can negate the contract with Hamilton Logging, Inc. and accept the offer.

The pair are not currently considering fronting the offer to Hamilton Logging, because that arrangement would not preclude the DNR from selling the timber to another buyer thereafter. Timber sales stipulate that all marked trees must be removed by a certain date, after which point the company’s rights to log will expire. Antes added that he and Bartlet hope to have the sale and contract called off by the state.

Still, Forest Alliance Executive Director Jeff Stant reached out to Hamilton Logging, Inc. on Friday and left a message to try to “open the dialogue.”


Been a while since I was in the public land law business, but a lot of federal land rules (and state law rules) are contingent on putting this stuff to “productive” use, so buying/leasing it as a reserve would well be disqualifying. One cannot, I don’t think, sit on a mining claim forever and do nothing with it. The government ought to put reserve uses and productive/extractive uses on the same footing, but that’s not the way this stuff is structured at all right now – so these guys need to check the boxes and dot their t’s if they want to do something like this. More’s the pity.

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I admittedly find it interesting that they took the time and effort to raise the funds and show up at the anointed hour, yet didn’t know they needed the proper licensing and paperwork done to make a bid?


Evaluating whether the government is legally required to sell only to the highest bidder might be worth spending 40k$ on a good law firm…

Clearly the rules are stacked against conservationists. The government wants people to follow the rules and then like Calvinball, those rules are created entirely to favor the status quo and the endless consumption of limited resources

Time for some more direct tactics.


Could the preservation group buy the land, put a pro-forma visitors lodge on the edge of it, and call that “productive use” as in tourism/recreation?

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That might be possible. In this case though the land itself wasn’t being sold. The headline is misleading. No one was buying a forest.

What was being auctioned off was the right to cut timber on the land.

By definition therefore the only people they were interested in selling to are loggers.

I always get the impression that the US is all or nothing on conservation. You have vast areas set aside where nothing at all is allowed. Everywhere else, pretty much anything goes.

I gather that’s changing but it still comes down to a shift of emphasis rather than a fundamental change, i.e. “Let’s try and exploit these resources in a more sustainable way” rather than “Let’s not exploit the resources at all”.

Would that be a fair impression?


The conservationists need to incorporate as Land Rapers, LLC.