Arent Fox Represents AFH in Washington State’s Largest Land Acquisition for Water and Resource Management
New York, NY — In one of the largest single land purchases by a state in the Pacific Northwest, Arent Fox LLP represented American Forest Holdings LLC (AFH) in its $97 million sale of 51,000 acres of timberland to the state of Washington. Finance partner Les Jacobowitz advised the Bellingham, Washington-based company in the transaction, which closed last month.
“This deal preserves a significant river and forest ecosystem from the threat of future development and is a critical component of the state’s Yakima River Basin plan to enhance the supply of water to Eastern Washington,” said Mr. Jacobowitz. “The community forest initiative keeps the land viable for recreation and wildlife conservation as well as appropriate timber harvesting to generate income for the state as well as to manage fire and infestation risks.”
The complex transaction – which required three years of negotiation and the support of the Yakama Indian Nation, environmental groups led by Forterra, state legislators, the governor, and three state agencies (Department of Ecology, Department of Natural Resources and Department of Fish & Wildlife) – is Washington’s largest-ever land acquisition for conservation and resource management purposes. The newly purchased tract becomes the state’s first community forest, part of a five-year-old initiative of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources that gives area communities a say in forest recreation, water quality and natural resource management, wildlife conservation, and timber harvesting.
The American Forest Holdings sale of the timber forest that surrounds a portion of the Teanaway River and a number of its tributaries north of the town of Cle Elum is essential to realizing the state’s $5 billion Yakima River Basin plan, an ongoing project to preserve water supply and wildlife vitality in the eastern part of the state. Coastal Washington receives substantially more rainfall than the east, where water demand typically outstrips supply.
Mr. Jacobowitz has more than 25 years of experience representing a broad range of issuers, underwriters, and financial institutions in domestic and international transactions totaling more than $25 billion and restructurings and workouts totaling an additional $23 billion. He has also worked with governmental entities, private companies, banks, investment banks and funds in all aspects of financing, including the securitization, public and bank finance, real estate, energy, and infrastructure financing areas.
Recognized in the top tier by Legal 500, the firm’s Finance practice provides integrated business counsel to clients across a broad range of industries. The group works closely with nationally recognized attorneys from Arent Fox’s Corporate & Securities, Bankruptcy & Financial Restructuring, Health Care, Insurance & Reinsurance, Real Estate, and Tax practices on matters that includes acquisition, bridge, construction, mezzanine, sale-leaseback, project finance, tax-exempt bond, and real estate and other asset-based financing.