Timber on old IP property to be cleared

Published 12:15am Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NATCHEZ — For years, the International Paper plant in the Natchez-Adams County Port area was a processing center for wood products.

Now, instead of having wood move onto the shuttered industrial site, Adams County is looking to have what lumber is growing on the 470-plus acre site removed.

The Adams County Board of Supervisors is advertising for bids for the removal of lumber from the site. Supervisors Vice President Mike Lazarus said the property’s previous owners, Rentech, were already logging the land when Adams County bought it in August.

“The day we took the title, we stopped (the logging operation), because the county couldn’t tell the logger to keep cutting because we have to follow bid laws,” Lazarus said.

Adams County Administrator Joe Murray said the forester working the operation at the time the county took over the property estimated the land had between 20 and 25 loads of timber left for harvesting.

“We have no idea what money 20-25 loads of wood might bring, and that is going to depend on the type of wood,” Murray said. “That is exactly why we are putting it out to bid, so we can get the best deal on it.”

The county similarly harvested the timber on the former Belwood Country Club last year in anticipation of KiOR eventually locating a cellulostic fuel plant there. Murray said that harvesting brought in less than $30,000, and he does not anticipate the IP property will bring in even that much.

But whatever revenue is generated by Adams County’s harvesting of the timber can help another cost somewhere else, he said, and the property will eventually need to be cleared anyway as it is redeveloped for industry.

“If there is any type of industrial development down there, it is all going to have to be cut the same as the Belwood property anyway, so there is no reason for timber to be on there,” Murray said.

Adams County purchased the IP property from Rentech for $9 million in an effort to get control of the industrial wastewater treatment plant located on the site, which officials with Natchez Inc. said would make a significant industrial recruiting tool.

The county is in negotiations with Natchez Railway to sell part of the property to build an extension of the rail line to help with the movement of rail cars in and out of the port.