Credit: @ianshivephoto / @tandemstock


At The Conservation Fund, we recognize financial sophistication and innovative collaborations are required to solve 21st century challenges, especially urgent ones like climate change. When SDS Lumber Company and SDS Co, LLC — a driving force and major employer in the Columbia River Gorge — announced its intent to sell over 96,000 acres of working forestland and its mill and timberland business, we quickly recognized the opportunity and challenges to securing this large landscape.

These 96,000 acres form a critical natural connection between national forests, wild & scenic rivers, and numerous conserved and public lands. However, the potential for a real estate developer or commercial timber liquidator to threaten these lands with conversion and aggressive harvesting was high. To prevent that outcome, we and a unique consortium of for-profit businesses worked together to design and offer a competitive purchase solution for the land that would balance conservation with economic sustainability.

Click here to view a larger map (in PDF).

After a year of hard work, in November 2021, as part of a single transaction, Twin Creeks Timber, LLC acquired 61,000 acres of timberland to be managed by Green Diamond Management Company, and the lumber and plywood mills were purchased by Wilkins, Kaiser & Olsen, Inc. (WKO), a local company that operates two sawmills in the region, for continued operation.

But how did conservation play a role? The Conservation Fund, through its affiliate Lupine Forest LLC, acquired over 35,500 acres of sensitive forestland using funding in part from our Green Bonds. This step provides time for our Working Forest Fund® to fundraise, develop and implement a range of permanent conservation strategies with public agencies and the Columbia Land Trust that will seek to secure public recreational access, preserve the natural, climate and community values, and ensure sustainable forest management.

In addition, we are committed to working with Green Diamond to place conservation easements that will ensure the lands it manages are protected from development and can continue to provide valuable wood products, jobs and environmental benefits across this important landscape for years to come.


Columbia Gorge Forest will be one of the largest conservation victories in the Pacific Northwest, and it needed a mission-driven, business-savvy nonprofit like The Conservation Fund, along with willing partners, to become a reality.

The Douglas-fir and Ponderosa pine forests are at the heart of local timber economies.Continued sustainable management of this landscape supports hundreds of forest-related rural jobs and will ensure the important forests, oak woodlands, and river habitats will be maintained for an array of wildlife, including rare, threatened and endangered species like the northern spotted owl, Oregon spotted frog, western gray squirrel, fisher, salmon, steelhead and golden eagle. In addition, these habitats support the municipal drinking water supplies for the cities of The Dalles, Oregon and White Salmon, Washington.

The lands also hold cultural importance, providing First Foods and natural resources for Tribes and Indigenous people. The people of the Confederated Tribes & Bands of Yakama Nation and other tribes have lived in this area, from the lowlands around the Columbia River to the snow-peaked Cascade Mountains, since the beginning of time. We recognize them as exceptional stewards of natural resources and leaders in watershed restoration.

The beloved landscape and its four rivers — the Klickitat, White Salmon, Little White Salmon, and Hood — are a premiere, world-class destination for whitewater kayakers and rafters. The river’s big waterfalls and powerful rapids challenge expert boaters, while other scenic sections are perfect for beginners. Our efforts will help secure over 34 miles of river frontage, including 4.5 miles of frontage along the White Salmon Wild & Scenic River. The region also offers multiple locations for mountain biking, hiking, hunting and fishing.

Situated in an ecological transition zone between the West and East Cascades, this region has greater ecological diversity than anywhere else along the lower Columbia River. Conservation of these working forestlands will be key to managing the landscape for climate resilience and species migration because they offer connections from the Columbia steppe habitat to high-elevation mixed conifer forests of the nearby national forests. Estimates show over 8.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent are stored in the forests — comparable to the emissions from 1.8 million passenger vehicles over the course of a year.

This landscape and its rivers and forests has been a priority for Columbia Land Trust for more than 20 years. The Conservation Fund's purchase enables Columbia Land Trust and our partners to work toward permanently conserving the critical wildlife habitat, public access, and working forests that the community values. We look forward to working together to make this dream a reality.

—Cherie Kearney, Forest Conservation Director for Columbia Land Trust

Credit: @ianshivephoto / @tandemstock


The Conservation Fund is actively raising funds to implement permanent conservation solutions for these lands. For more information about how you can support the ongoing efforts to conserve Columbia Gorge Forest, please contact Samaria Jaffe.