Winning bid received for Siltcoos/Tahkenitch water rights, dams, IP site

The dam on Siltcoos Outlet was built in 1964-65 for International Paper. On Nov. 16 a winning bid was received for purchase of the dam, along with a similar structure on Tahkenitch Lake, the water rights to both lakes and a mill site in Gardiner. Information on who the winning bidder is will not be available until closing. Photo by Zac Burtt/Siuslaw News

Information sparse but source reiterates dam removal not likely

Nov. 29, 2022 — Dunes City residents have been waiting with great anticipation for news about a local real estate auction.

For the last few months Realty Marketing/Northwest has accepted bids on a 440+-acre property stretching from Gardiner south to Siltcoos Lake north. The property includes the former Industrial Paper (IP) mill site in Gardiner, water rights to both Siltcoos and Tahkenitch Lakes and dams on each.

Nov. 16 was the deadline for potential buyers to make closed bids. According to John Rosenthal, president of Realty Marketing/Northwest, a successful bid has been received.

According to Rosenthal, no further details can be released till the closing of the deal, but he did speak to some concerns that have been voiced by those with a stake in the sale. Although he could not speak for the winning bidder, he did have reassuring words for those concerned that the dam would be removed.

“I can tell you, in regard to the folks that did bid on the site, that [removal of the dam] was never part of the conversation,” said Rosenthal. “I would not worry about the lake.”

This may ease concerns of those worried that their dock would end on dry land after the purchase. However, this may then cause concern for those that felt removing the dam and returning the lake to its natural state was the best course of action.

From October when news came out that the property was for sale, it seemed the biggest question on Dunes City residents’ minds have been, “Will the buyer remove the dam from Siltcoos Outlet?”

Some residents are concerned if the dam is pulled that the depth of already shallow Siltcoos Lake would drop significantly, affecting wells for drinking water and fishing. Others that live right on the lake are concerned that if the water level drops significantly because of the dam being removed, their dock may end on dry land.

There is also a less vocal group who hope the dam will be removed, returning the lake to the conditions before the mid-1960s when the dam was installed. Those folks believe removing the dams would improve fishing. Some also believe removal would improve water quality because the natural flow of salt water in and out could help decrease algae blooms.

Dunes City Mayor Sheldon Meyer is looking forward to this deal being finalized, hopefully putting an end to the rumor mill around whether or not the dam will be removed.

“That is great news about the sanctity of the lakes and is basically the same message that I was given,” said Meyer after receiving word of the sale. “I am eager to get to the part where the bid buyer will be made public and hopefully that will end the conjecture about the loss of the lakes via the rumor about the dam removals.”

According to Rosenthal, once the sale closes, the buyer will be made public. He expects that to take “at least 60 days” and maybe longer.

Watch the Siuslaw News for further coverage when more information becomes available.