By Eddie Lee Rider, Jr.
I recently had a chance to sit down with Potlatch’s Bill DeReu, Vice President of Real Estate and Lake State Resources.
ELR: Bill, I understand Potlatch was formed in Idaho in
1903, and established a beachhead in the South by acquiring land in Arkansas in the 1950s. How and where has the company grown since then?
BD: Potlatch’s land holdings have grown steadily over the years, as we gained a significant presence in Minnesota in the 1960s and then acquired land in Alabama and Mississippi in 2014. The company is now one of the largest private landowners in the U.S., known for quality timber and land management.
ELR: Where does the name Potlatch come from?
BD: The company chose the name Potlatch because of the Native American influence on the land in the Pacific Northwest, and it means “a gathering where gifts are exchanged.”
ELR: How many acres does the company currently own, and how much land does the company sell in an average year?
BD: We currently own about 1.4 million acres, with 1.2 million acres in core timberland, and we have identified 200,000 acres of real estate that has values much greater than timberland. We sell about 20,000 acres of that real estate annually for conservation, recreation and cabin sites.
ELR: What do those retail land transactions look like in terms of land and size?
BD: Potlatch offers something for everyone in our recreational real estate program, from 5 acres to thousands of acres. Buyers have a variety of reasons for buying, whether it’s building a legacy for their family, having a home base for hunting, or being close to nearby recreational opportunities. And there’s a bonus — quality timber that grows over time and that can be sold by the new owner.
ELR: I understand you have a very unique listing in Minnesota. Tell the Land Report readers about that.
BD: We have 2,000 acres for sale north of Ely, Minnesota, not far from the U.S./Canada border. It’s adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which has been named by National Geographic and others as one of America’s top outdoor destinations. We’re developing a master plan vision for the property now, and there’s also strong potential for conservation. It’ll be a great find for the lucky buyer.