$20 Million Myers Flat Land Deal Falls Through

A 6,500-acre property outside Myers Flat is back on the market after a deal in which a prospective buyer offered more than $20 million in cash fell apart, a Realtor said last Friday.

“Things change. It’s not over ’til the fat lady sings,” quipped Kevin Sullivan, a Ukiah-based real estate agent who specializes in large ranch sales.

The parcel, which fronts the South Fork of the Eel River across from Avenue of the Giants, was featured in a recent San Francisco Chronicle article about a spike in area land sales due to demand from pot growers and speculators looking to cash in on Humboldt’s reputation as the center of the cannabis universe.

The putative land rush, in which property values have apparently jumped significantly just in the past few months, is being attributed to the passage in February of the county’s landmark medical marijuana ordinance.

David Myers, executive director of the Wildlands Conservancy, which specializes in the purchasing of properties with significant environmental value and turning them into nature preserves, confirmed last week that he had been in the process of finalizing a $15 million purchase agreement for the Myers Flat parcel when someone stepped forward and outbid him — or at least seemed to.

“The owner said he would give us 45 days to raise the money, then someone came in with $20.5 million cash,” Myers related.

When asked who made the offer, Myers didn’t specify, possibly because he doesn’t know. What he did say was that “Bulgarian and Russian and Mexican cartels are buying large amounts of ranch lands” in the region.

Now that the deal has collapsed, Myers indicated that he was hopeful his organization could still acquire the property — particularly since the owner, an elderly man who lives out of state, expressed regret when it seemed that the Wildlands Conservancy had lost out.

“He called me while he was vacationing in the Bahamas and said: ‘I feel bad. I would like to see this go to you guys.’”

Whether the conservancy can make it happen this time around is uncertain. Sullivan indicated that the current asking price is in the neighborhood of the offer that for whatever reason never materialized — in other words, $20 million.

As for what it is about the land that is attractive to the conservancy, part of the answer is simply its location.

On the upper end of the Eel River is the conservancy’s Spyrock Reserve, a 5,800-acre gem that the organization bought seven to eight years ago. Near the river’s mouth is its 1,100-acre Eel River Estuary Preserve.

“The properties are 104 miles apart. We’re looking for something in the middle,” Myers explained.

Rolling Meadows, as the parcel near Myers Flat is known, does not contain any old growth. Instead, it is marked by a mosaic of forest — mostly Douglas fir with some redwood — and open spaces.