After being denied the purchase of the Elliott State Forest, Lone Rock Timber Management Company submitted a notice of tort claims of misrepresentation and negligence to the Department of State Lands and the State Land Board on Thursday.
The Roseburg-based timber company also gave notice of its intent to sue for breach damages, and demanded to be compensated $1,327,900.39 in reliance damages and $2 million in lost opportunity damages.
“Our unique coalition operated in good faith and met every criteria identified in the state’s transparent, multi-year process to sell the forest,” Toby Luther, CEO of Lone Rock, said in a statement. “It’s clear now, however, that the governor had no intention of accepting a proposal under the established protocol. You cannot simultaneously encourage bidders and commit to bidders publicly while privately planning a shift in policy.”
The State Land Board originally voted to sell the forest in order to meet its commitment to the Common School Fund in 2015.
In November 2016, Lone Rock and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, with support from the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians and the Conservation Fund, submitted their proposal to buy the forest from the state. The Department of State Lands deemed the proposal to be responsive to its criteria for sale.
Between then and May 9, the Department of State Lands, DSL, worked with Lone Rock and the Cow Creek Tribe through the state’s protocol toward an offer of sale. At the State Land Board meeting Feb. 14, board member Gov. Kate Brown voted against the sale while the other members, Treasurer Tobias Read and Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, voted to move forward with the sale.
As alternative options arose, all three State Land Board members at the board’s May 9 meeting voted to terminate the established protocol for sale in favor of keeping the land publicly owned.
“This wrongfully denied Lone Rock, Cow Creek and the Confederated Tribes the formal direct offer of sale which DSL and the Land Board had promised would be made numerous times in the protocol and in public meetings,” Lone Rock’s letter reads. “The Land Board and DSL wrongly breached and/or misrepresented these explicit promises and what it intended to do, and/or was negligent in failing to implement the promises and representations when they had the duty to comply.”
Lone Rock claims it lost $1.3 million in out-of-pocket expenses: Legal fees, a forest analysis, consulting, financing and other costs. The $2 million refers to the estimated increase in value of the forest since the state’s appraisal.
Representatives of the Department of State Lands could not be reached for comment.