Closed-bid auction of large forest tract along Skunk Train route ends on Thursday

A 2,020-acre forest in the heart of Mendocino County's redwood country is for sale in what forestry professionals say is a rare offering to the public.

"It's very unusual that a large tract of redwood land would come up for sale," said Frank Mileham, a registered forester and real estate appraiser with the Natural Resources Management Corp. in Eureka.

Larger redwood tracts have traded hands, but the transactions generally have occurred within the timber industry, sometimes the result of forced sales such as the bankruptcy of the former Pacific Lumber Co. in Humboldt County. They've also included purchases by conservation groups.

The offered property -- Redwood Creek Tree Farm northwest of Willits -- is expected to be sold during a sealed bid auction that ends Thursday.

The minimum bid is $4.79 million.

The trees on the land are about 40 to 60 years old and more than half are fast growing, said John Rosenthal, president of Realty Marketing/Northwest, which is conducting the sale.

"I call it green gold," Rosenthal said.

The land contains an estimated 22 million board feet of timber, 58 percent of it redwood, according to the auction brochure.

The land also has potential as a camp or retreat and could be used to gain conservation credits, he said.

Local forestry experts say the property's price tag is high for timber purposes and that it likely reflects development possibilities.

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