The Boy Scouts on the North Coast have reached a deal to sell Camp Masonite-Navarro in Mendocino County, where scouts have learned outdoor skills for 57 years.
The scouts' Redwood Empire Council headquarted in Santa Rosa will continue to use the site for summer camps under the $1.9 million deal, said Herb Williams, the council's president.
"We're selling a property that's been in the red for nine of the past 10 years, but we'll continue to have use of the camp for many years to come," he said.
The sale also lets the scout group erase a budget deficit that reached $157,000 in 2010, Williams said.
The 80-acre camp is being sold to NorthWest Stewards, a Seattle-based real estate investment company. The deal is expected to close later this year.
"Our plan is to run it as a camp," said Don Asher, a partner in NorthWest Stewards. The property will host private retreats and conferences when not used by the Boy Scouts, he said.
The company has other recreational properties and its partners all have ties to the outdoors, Asher said. "I was a scout, and I have a very strong connection to scouting," he said.
The council put the camp on the market for $2 million a year ago after running into budget problems. "All nonprofits are having trouble raising money and we are too," Williams said.
The camp was founded in 1955 on Masonite Corp.'s redwood timberland along the North Fork of the Navarro River. The timber company donated the land to the council in 1973.
It has capacity for 300 scouts. The camp also is used by Girl Scouts, church groups and schools.
The camp suffered a blow 14 years ago when environmental regulations barred the scouts from installing a summer dam on the river for swimming and other water sports.
Over the past three years, only about 15 percent of the council's scout units have used Camp Masonite-Navarro, Williams said. The property costs about $45,000 a year to maintain.
Still, camps are scheduled this year and will be held in the future, he said.
The new owners plan to keep much of the architecture of the original camp, Williams said. "They want us to keep the memorabilia there," he said. "They want to have the ambience of a scout camp."
Terms of the council's use agreement are still being negotiated, Williams said, but it will be in place before the deal closes.
The council serves more than 1,900 scouts in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. It also has more than 1,100 adult volunteers.
Earlier this year, Humboldt and Del Norte counties left the Redwood Empire group to join a scouting council in Southern Oregon.
The camp sale puts the council on solid financial footing, Williams said. "We started turning it around last year. When escrow closes we will not have any debt," he said.
Some of the proceeds will go to an endowment and an outreach program to the Hispanic community, Williams said.
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