Bull Springs Skyline Forest is back on the market

The Bend Bulletin highlights the importance of Skyline Forest, near Bend, and shares why the Land Trust is still committed to protecting these 33,000 acres.
By Brenna Visser
The Bulletin

Bull Springs Skyline Forest, a 33,000-acre privately held timberland and recreational wilderness area west of Bend, is on the market.

The property, which borders the Deschutes National Forest, was part of 197,000 acres purchased by Whitefish Cascade Forest Resources in 2014 for $63 million. The Singapore-based investment company is now selling the former tree farm portion for $127 million.

“Once you lay eyes on Bull Springs Skyline Forest, you will agree that it is unquestionably one of the most beautiful blocks of contiguous timberland, not only in Oregon, but, in the entire western United States,” said Robb Van Pelt, of Mason & Morse Ranch Company, the company brokering the sale.

The Deschutes Land Trust continues to be interested in buying the land, which the land trust has been hoping to make into a community forest since 2005.

“This project has monumental importance to Central Oregon,” said Brad Chalfant, Deschutes Land Trust executive director. “The land itself has always been productive commercial timberland. We hope that continues into the future, that it is sustainably harvested.”

Chalfant said the property will become even more important for recreation as existing trail systems become more and more crowded. The Land Trust hopes to sit down with the property owner to understand what it wants to happen on the land, which would structure the nature of the transaction.

“For a property that is so tied to our future, the thought of it trading hands once again and the potential someone could try to break it up and develop more could really impact the future of Central Oregon,” he said.

The property is currently zoned for forest operations, which can conditionally allow private hunting, fishing, private parks and one single-family home per 240 acres. But Mason & Morse Ranch Company is also pitching the property as one that could be rezoned to accommodate a destination resort.

“When you combine the resources of timber, wildlife, water, recreation, conservation and redevelopment potential together with its close proximity to Bend, Oregon, you will find it is truly ‘One of a Kind,’” the company said in a press release.

However the sale goes, Chalfant said the land trust will continue trying to buy this land.

“Our projects don’t happen overnight,” he said.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160, bvisser@bendbulletin.com

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