Starke Commissioners Approve Sale of Timber from County Forest

Bruce Wakeland

The Starke County Commissioners Monday night discussed the Starke County Forest and a request from Forester Bruce Wakeland to sell timber from the forest in an area he had previously set aside for white pine.

Wakeland had donated a piece of property, 129 acres, to the county that he currently manages to be used as a county forest. The forest, on State Road 8, pays its bills by selling timber instead of using county funds and gate fees. Wakeland said the forest has trails and other attractions that the public is welcome to check out, and he said the forest has been seeing its fair share of visitors.

Wakeland approached the commissioners and explained that four years ago, before the property was given to the county, he had planned on cutting down some white pine trees that had been planted into three tracts. Unfortunately, the recession led to a decrease in the demand for white pine, so he figured he would sell them when the market came back up.

Since then, Wakeland said he has been approached by an Amish company looking to purchase white pine to build custom log cabins. The company has expressed interest in purchasing 387 white pine trees for $5535, which they would harvest themselves. However, Wakeland was unsure as to who the contract for the sale should be made out to – that is, him or the county – and whether the check should be made out to the forest, Wakeland, or Starke County.

County Attorney Martin Lucas explained the best approach would be to have the commissioners approve and sign the contract and have the check written to the Starke County Treasurer along with the name of the forest trust. The contract requires the company to pay for the timber in full before logging efforts begin, and Wakeland said the park would likely have to be closed while the work is being done.

The commissioners signed the timber sale contract as presented.