September 2014

Lyme Cross City Forest Company, LLC

THE PROJECT

In September 2014, AMCREF Community Capital provided $10 million of NMTC financing to Lyme Cross City Forest Company, LLC for 46,000 acres of timberland in Dixie County, Florida. Lyme plans to sell working forest conservation easements (WFCEs) with assistance from The Conservation Fund. The WFCEs will permanently protect the land from development and ensure that it continues to be productive, working forest supporting local jobs. This is the major working forest industrial timberland in the county and vital for supporting the region’s struggling forestry industry, including numerous large mills which are major local employers. Lyme will introduce its socially responsible management approach, including: 1) sustainable forestry practices certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI); 2) fair logger contracts to support logger profitability and survival; and 3) log merchandising to maximize value of the timber harvested. The project is adjacent to other conversation lands and will create a continuous conservation corridor of 196,000 acres, further protecting the watersheds of the Suwannee River and Gulf of Mexico while creating a vast “carbon sink”. Lyme has a successful history of purchasing, owning, and operating land under WFCEs and is committed to improving the business model within the logging industry.

COMMUNITY IMPACT

  • Job Creation and Support: 16 direct FTEs created and 315 indirect jobs supported at the local Suwannee Mill. Lyme provides full benefits, training and pays average annual wages well above the local living wage. Suwannee Mill is a major employer in the community and it is directly reliant on the timber from Lyme.
  • Environmental Benefits: Combined total of 76,000 acres will be protected under WFCEs, permanently protecting the land from development. Unique opportunity to protect expansive tract of land in location that is critical to local wildlife, the watershed, the Suwannee River and the Gulf of Mexico. Timber harvesting will be prohibited on 22,000 acres of forested wetlands. Sustainable forestry practices will be SFI certified. Net “carbon sink” because of protected wetlands and SFI timber management practices.
  • Community Support and Impacts: Lyme will introduce its socially responsible timber management initiatives and workforce development programs. Lyme will maintain access to greenspace which is popular for recreational activities by both the local community and tourists. Lyme also conducted numerous community meetings, hired a local forestry manager and secured contracts with local loggers.
  • Economic / Catalytic Effects: The project received significant support from regional government, EDOs and community groups. The local tax base is highly dependent on the forestry industry and tourism (both supported by Lyme). 100% of timber is sold to local mills within a 75-mile radius.