EUGENE, Ore. — The tall trees at Washburne Wayside are long gone.
Eugene-based Shiloh Forestry, the 38-acre property’s owner since last fall, harvested the trees earlier this year. Before the sale the land had been a state-owned rest stop with a thick stand of towering trees, mainly Douglas firs. The company confirmed the logging Wednesday, and a Shiloh official said it doesn’t have immediate plans for the land.
The harvest happened between January and March and the logs went to mills around the southern Willamette Valley, according to Shiloh. Mark Gwillim, the company’s owner, didn’t immediately respond to an email Wednesday.
Doug Heiken, a Eugene environmentalist, first saw the results of the logging last week. He said, ironically, he was headed to Corvallis for a talk about the effects of clear-cutting.
What had been Washburne Wayside is now an example of what is left after loggers cut nearly all the trees from a patch of forest, said Heiken, conservation and restoration coordinator for Oregon Wild in Eugene. “The whole thing is a mud pit,” he said.
The property shows why public land should be kept public, Heiken added.
“Public lands are valuable for so much more than the trees,” he said. “We get clean water. We get habitat. We get quality life. And we just can’t afford to sacrifice those things for a quick buck, and that’s apparently what the state did here.”
The state had owned the property since 1926, when it bought the land from William and Mae Washburne. The couple became the namesake for the wayside, which provided a respite for motorists on Highway 99.
Oregon State Parks auctioned the land to the highest bidder last year. Shiloh entered a bid of $255,570 for the property, beating out Lochmead Farms’ bid of $250,000 and Goshen Forest Products’ bid of $136,000. A January 2017 appraisal valued the property at $356,000.
Junction City-based Lochmead Farms owns and operates the Dari Mart convenience store chain. Goshen Forest Products is based in Eugene. Shiloh Forestry is also in Eugene.
How much the recently cut timber sold for is unknown.
Most of the Washburne Wayside — 31 acres — is in Lane County, with the remaining 7 acres in Benton County. Both counties have the land zoned for agricultural use.
State Parks rarely sells real estate, but decided to sell the Washburne Wayside because it was no longer being used as a rest stop. The sewage system failed about a decade ago so the state removed the bathrooms.
State Parks offered the property to public agencies but had to settle for a private buyer. State officials decided in 2012 to sell the land.
Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com