Rayonier, a Florida-based timber and land management company announced Jan. 15 that it would be acquiring Pope Resources for more than $550 million. Included in the acquisition are all of Pope’s timberlands as well as its real estate development ventures in Gig Harbor, Port Gamble, Kingston and Bainbridge Island.
As of September 2019, Rayonier owned, leased or managed some 2.6 million acres of timberlands throughout the southern U.S., Pacific Northwest and New Zealand.
“The acquisition Augments higher-and-better-use real estate pipeline with rural and conservation land sale opportunities and high-potential improved development projects in west Puget Sound area,” a release from Rayonier reads.
According to the terms of the agreement: “Pope Resources unitholders will have the right to elect to receive (i) 3.929 common shares of Rayonier, (ii) 3.929 units of Rayonier Operating Partnership LP, or (iii) $125 in cash in exchange for each unit of Pope Resources, subject to a proration mechanism.”
The acquisition of Pope Resources marks the departure of a company whose name and presence have been felt on the Kitsap Peninsula in some capacity for more than 150 years. Pope Resources’ predecessor, Pope and Talbot, began operation of the Port Gamble Mill in 1853. Milling would continue in the company town until 1995, when the mill shut down.
In recent years Pope Resources stirred controversy when it was announced that the company planned to aerially apply the controversial herbicide glyphosate to its timberland holdings. The revelation of the forthcoming applications in Hansville prompted the formation of the Kitsap Environmental Coalition in 2018, which fought against the spraying by filing an appeal with the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board.
In July 2019, representatives from Pope announced that they would not be spraying glyphosate in Kitsap in the near term, but did hint at the possibility of future applications. In November 2019 the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe announced that it would be acquiring 937 acres of Pope’s forest lands in the Hansville area, but that it would retain the right to harvest timber on most of the property acquired by the tribe, for no more than 15 years.
The transaction between Pope Resources and Rayonier is expected to close by mid-year.