Eau Claire County is suing a rural Augusta man and two businesses, seeking more than $230,000 for timber, interest and costs associated with bringing the civil lawsuit.
Chad Bergman, Bergman Logging and Bergman Trucking, all of S8445 Highway AF, Augusta, are named as defendants in the suit.
According to court records:
In January 2012 and May 2016, Bergman signed Eau Claire County timber sales agreements in which he agreed to pay the county the total value of all the timber he cut as determined by a formula set out in the contract, including 1.5 percent interest per month on any balance past due.
Bergman has failed to pay the county pursuant to the terms of both contracts, and as of Sept. 22 he owed $50,488 on the 2012 agreement and $182,636 on the 2016 agreement.
Eau Claire County has demanded payment from Bergman, but he has failed to pay, breaching the contracts.
Bergman has yet to respond to the suit.
The county, which has 52,000-plus acres of county forest, offers timber sales twice a year. Sale prospectuses are sent to loggers, who can then bid on stands of timber.
Contractors have two years to cut the timber, but they can receive extensions, said Josh Pedersen, director of the county Parks and Forest Department.
The bulk of the county forest is in the eastern third of the county, north and east of Augusta. The forest mostly comprises aspen, oak and various kinds of pine, Pedersen said.
Annual revenues from timber sales have ranged from $500,000 to $1.33 million per year during the past five years, according to online county budget figures. Projected sales for 2017 are $908,369.
“It all depends on the market, but timber sales can bring a lot of money in,” said county Supervisor Pat LaVelle, chairman of the Parks and Forest Committee.
The sales help maintain vigor in the forest, Pedersen said.
Since he joined the county in 2013, Pedersen said, “occasionally, you’ll get someone who is late a month or two on a payment, but that doesn’t happen terribly often.”
Eau Claire County, in court documents, is asking that an accounting of the defendants’ assets be provided to it immediately. The county also is asking a judge to order Bergman and the logging and trucking businesses to pay the county $233,124 plus interest from the date of filing the suit, costs and fees related to filing the suit, and any other relief deemed appropriate.
Eau Claire County Forest
• Total acreage: 52,000-plus.
• Location: Mostly in the eastern third of the county.
• Types of trees: Mainly three — aspen, oak and various types of pine.
• Annual timber sales: Two.
• Revenue from annual timber sales: $500,000, 2012; $500,424, 2013; $1.33 million, 2014; $1.3 million, 2015; $905,000, 2016; $908,369, 2017. (Figures for 2016 and 2017 are estimated.)
Source: Eau Claire County Parks and budgets.