Forever Wild Land Trust and Molpus Timberlands Management Close Largest Government Transaction in State's History

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61,138 acres secured within the Cahaba River and Mulberry Fork Wildlife Management Areas

State of Alabama's Forever Wild Land Trust

This Project has been crucial in our efforts to advance the long-term protection of recreational lands in Central Alabama

The State of Alabama's Forever Wild Land Trust (Forever Wild) has reached a historic moment in the history of the program. This week, Forever Wild and Molpus Timberlands Management, a timberland investment management organization (TIMO) headquartered in Jackson, Miss., on behalf of a client, will conclude a yearlong negotiation for the purchase of a 93-year recreational lease within two of the state's largest and most heavily used Wildlife Management Areas. The project will net over 61,000 acres of recreational land in four counties of central Alabama.

The transaction provides for approximately 27,858 acres within the Bibb and Shelby County portions of the Cahaba River WMA, and 33,280 acres within Tuscaloosa and Walker counties for the Mulberry Fork WMA. Both areas have been part of the state's WMA system for the last decade, and will now be secured under the long-term lease negotiated by Forever Wild. These two units represent heavily utilized public hunting areas adjacent to the greater Birmingham metropolitan area.

"This Project has been crucial in our efforts to advance the long-term protection of recreational lands in Central Alabama," said Barnett Lawley. Lawley serves a dual role as Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Chairman of the Forever Wild Land Trust Board of Trustees. Commissioner Lawley concluded by adding that "despite their being fewer opportunities for large projects within central Alabama, this project and the 2007 purchase of about 10,000 acres in Coosa County's longleaf hills have struck a home run for our citizens--71,000 acres of land protected for recreational use by future generations!"

Molpus Timberlands Management manages the forest resources within the lease area, and entered into discussions with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources about the possibility of the project over two years ago.

"We are pleased to play a role with Forever Wild in such a unique transaction, and we look forward to working with the State of Alabama to provide public land utilization opportunities for its citizens. I believe that other states will follow Alabama's lead," said Dick Molpus, President of Molpus Timberlands Management.

Ken Sewell, Chief Operating Officer of Molpus Timberlands Management, said, "Recreational opportunities abound within a well-managed, working forest and this agreement makes these opportunities available to be enjoyed by an increased number of people. Hopefully, this is the first of several such transactions we are able to play a role in developing."

In addition to completing the successful purchase of the recreational lease, Forever Wild now has protected over 200,000 acres of land for long-term habitat protection and recreational use. State Lands Director Patti Powell added that "the project demonstrates the flexibility of the Forever Wild Program at a time when many government programs are being challenged with unique economic circumstances." In recognition of the forethought of our state legislators' actions 17 years ago when they created Forever Wild, Alabama is benefiting from some unique land opportunities at a time when other options are extremely limited. "No other program can deliver these large recreational opportunities for our citizens, providing for an enhancement of our quality of life in Alabama," concluded Powell.

The project also has a significant economic benefit to the state of Alabama. Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries' Director Corky Pugh indicated that "Forever Wild has been monumental in securing affordable, accessible hunting opportunities for the rank and file citizens of Alabama, now and into the future. The value of these opportunities for healthy, family-based recreation is of growing significance, and hunting is an economic engine in Alabama that generates $1.4 billion of annual economic impact throughout the state."

Molpus Timberlands Management, LLC is the timberland management arm of its sister operating company, The Molpus Woodlands Group LLC (a Registered Investment Advisor), which was founded in 1996 as a timberland investment management organization (collectively, Molpus). Molpus has a history in the timber industry dating back to 1905 and manages large timberland holdings in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Molpus has a forestry office in Birmingham, Ala. as well as a tree nursery in Elberta, Ala. Molpus finds itself as one of the oldest timber-related companies in the nation with experience in all facets of timber management, manufacturing and marketing. Molpus acquires, manages and sells timberland as an investment vehicle for pension funds, college endowments, foundations, insurance companies and high net-worth individual investors. Molpus focuses on ensuring long-term optimum cash returns on investments while practicing responsible forest stewardship. Web site: Molpus.com.

The Forever Wild Land Trust has secured over 205,372 acres for habitat protection and public recreation since the program began in 1992. These lands and their interests were purchased through 72 individual transactions in 22 counties, and are managed under the principles of multiple-use. To learn more about the Forever Wild Program, visit AlabamaForeverWild.com.

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Michael R. Cooper

Greg Lein
Forever Wild
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