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Scappoose again seeks bids to harvest city timber

by: FILE PHOTO - Former Scappoose City Forester Jay Worley stands within the 33-acre Gourlay Creek watershed timber tract, which the city estimates will rake in about $440,000 if harvested.Scappoose will issue a bid request this month to seek a company to clear-cut its 33-acre timber tract located in the Gourlay Creek watershed.

This will be the second time the city has issued a request for bids to find a company willing to clear-cut the tract.

In late May, the city sought bids to harvest the same tract, but it received no offers. Since the money that clear-cut would have generated never went into the city’s revenue stream, Scappoose entered the fiscal year with a $440,000 shortfall.

The near half-million-dollar hole in the city’s budget was also a major driver in its decision to incrementally raise residential water rates by $15 per meter per month over the course of three years. Had the tract sold, water rate increases may have been delayed another year.

Interim City Manager Don Otterman said the city will likely need to bring on a city forester to survey the tract before sending out the request for bids. Jay Worley, Scappoose’s former city forester, recently retired.

“I have not been involved in a timber sale before,” Otterman said. “I need to find out if there is a need for a forester to be involved in the timber sale, then council would need to approve that contract.”

Otterman said he plans on contacting Forest Grove’s city forester before moving forward with the bid request.

“Our goal is to have it out by the end of January with bids due by the end of February,” he said.

In looking over former City Manager Jon Hanken’s staff report on why no bids were offered, Otterman said he was able to identify two areas for improvement that could make the bid request more successful.

“Timber companies set up their work early in the year and get loggers and trucks committed. June was way too late,” he said, adding that sending a request in January should give logging companies ample time to commit to a job.

Otterman said the original bid also requested payment upfront for all of the timber prospective companies would cut, which may have been a deterrent.

“There were some concerns that if the price of timber fell, the companies worried if they would make enough money to make it worthwhile after paying upfront,” he said. “We might split up the payments so companies could make payments at 25 percent. That way they would not have to advance the funds, they would have less of a cost there and would be able to project more what their profits would be. I don’t know why [the city] wanted all of it upfront.”

Should the city honor a bid at the end of February to clear-cut the Gourlay Creek Timer tract, Otterman said the project would likely not be done by the end of the fiscal year, meaning some of the revenue generated by the cut would be poured into next year’s budget.