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HANCOCK TIMBER RESOURCE GROUP ANNOUNCES LANDMARK AGREEMENT

 OLYMPIA, Wash., Jan. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- A landmark agreement announced today by a major Northwest timber owner, a Tacoma electric utility, and state and federal wildlife officials will provide major new set-asides for wildlife in the Cowlitz River drainage south of Morton in Lewis County.
 In what officials believe is the largest transaction of its kind in Washington state, The Hancock Timber Resource Group announced the sale, with special environmental provisions, of 6,900 acres of timberland to Tacoma City Light. The provisions are expected to help the utility provide additional wildlife habitat near its Mossyrock and Mayfield dams on the Cowlitz.
 Licenses for the dams, scheduled to expire in 2001, will be reviewed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The agreement announced today is an offset, required by FERC, to the loss of wildlife habitat caused by construction of the dams 30 years ago.
 The action creates the largest state wildlife area in western Washington, according to state Wildlife Director Curt Smitch.
 Hancock Timber, Tacoma, and officials of the Washington Department of Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been working together for two years to forge an agreement that provides for enhanced wildlife habitat, greater protection for fisheries, protection of the viewshed near the town of Morton and greater biodiversity in the area.
 "This is an innovative step that is good news for thousands of people in western Washington," said Mason Browne, regional forester for Hancock. "It underscores the fact that timber owners, regulators and public utilities can work in partnership to reach environmental goals. This transaction is one of the most satisfying we've ever been associated with. We hope it sets a standard for new, cooperative thinking in the future."
 "This new agreement will demonstrate how landowners can successfully manage large landscapes or ecosystems for multiple species of wildlife and fish, for recreation and for economic benefit," Smitch said.
 "We know that we will have significant wildlife obligations to meet when we renew our federal license for the Cowlitz Project in 2002," said City Light Superintendent Mark Crisson. "We were fortunate to have an opportunity now to acquire and preserve an important, large area for wildlife habitat, and to reach an agreement with Hancock Timber and state and federal agencies that meets all of our mutual needs for both our current and future license period."
 The agreement transfers title of the land to the utility while Hancock retains timber rights on about 60 percent of the property. The Hancock timber will be harvested over a 34-year period. The transaction will preserve selected stands of older timber for wildlife and also will preserve the viewshed overlooking the town of Morton. The transaction also provides for much wider-than-usual protective strips of timber along sensitive streams and waterways.
 The Campbell Group, a Portland, Ore.-based timberland investment firm, led the negotiations on behalf of Hancock. As the western affiliate of The Hancock Timber Resource Group, Campbell will manage the reserved timber in accordance with state regulations and Hancock Timber's own environmental policies. All four parties to the agreement will cooperate in administering the wildlife plan.
 Hancock Timber is the nation's largest manager of timber for institutional investors, with 1.5 million acres in the South and West. It is a unit of Boston-based John Hancock Financial Services.
 -0- 1/4/93
 /CONTACT: Mason Browne of Hancock Timber Resource Group, 206-754-2128; or Korte Brueckmann of Tacoma Public Utilities, 206-591-9754; or Dave Workman of the Washington Department of Wildlife, 206-753-5707; or Bob Sundmacher of The Rockey Co., 206-728-1778, for Hancock Timber Resource Group/


CO: Hancock Timber Resource Group; Tacoma City Light; Washington
 Department of Wildlife; The Campbell Group; John Hancock
 Financial Services ST: Washington IN: PAP SU: TNM


SW-LM -- SE002 -- 1445 01/04/93 17:01 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 4, 1993
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