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City of Oak Harbor deciding what to do with logged acreage on Sleeper Road

The city of Oak Harbor logged 40 acres it owns off Sleeper Road and is considering selling the land or leasing its mineral rights. - Photo by Debra Vaughn/Whidbey News-Times
The city of Oak Harbor logged 40 acres it owns off Sleeper Road and is considering selling the land or leasing its mineral rights.
— image credit: Photo by Debra Vaughn/Whidbey News-Times

The city of Oak Harbor is investigating what it should do with 40 acres of property it owns off Sleeper Road.

In the last several weeks, the city has logged the land and plans to have the property and its mineral rights appraised. The property could be sold or city leaders may decide to lease the mineral rights.

The land — which consists of two 20-acre parcels — is located off State Highway 20 near two gravel pits. In past years, the city used the land as a borrow pit, extracting gravel and soil for city use elsewhere.

Former Mayor Scott Dudley initially suggested the city consider selling the land and reinvesting the profits into a park inside the city limits, said City Administrator Doug Merriman.

Merriman said he plans to advise the city council to reinvest the profits from the clearcutting and sale into property or a building rather than spending the proceeds on city operations.

“At this point, we are in fact-finding mode,” he said. “From a financial standpoint, I’m interested in not just the market value, but what is the value of the gravel and other commodities, and what options do we have.”

The City Council approved logging the land and hiring a forester nearly two years ago. Councilman Rick Almberg said it’s an asset the city didn’t seem to need.

“The trees were mature trees,” he said. “They were in their prime growth … It wasn’t because the city was in some kind of financial emergency. You have a stand of timber right there that can be used for many other benefits to the community.”

The city earned $244,000 from timber sales. An estimated 722,000 board feet were harvested.

Officials are taking steps to reforest the area, Merriman said. They want to grind the piles of leftover branches to clean up the land. They also are purchasing seedlings to replant across the property.

The reforestation, limb grinding, and appraisal of the property and mineral value will be paid for using proceeds from the logging operations.

 

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