By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

In a last ditch effort to retain county income from the Mill Creek property, state Assemblymember Virginia Strom-Martin called for special negotiations yesterday.

Two Del Norte County supervisors, the county auditor and county counsel flew to Sacramento yesterday for a meeting with land owner Andrew Miller and land buyer Save-the-Redwoods League.

I had written a letter to (Board of Supervisors chairman) Mr. Blackburn suggesting we all sit down together to try and work this out, Strom-Martin said.

After the meeting, which lasted five hours without a break, Strom-Martin said: Its not over yet, and that she would not go into details about the discussion until an agreement is reached.

At issue is the sale of 25,000 acres of timberland just south of Crescent City, part of which boarders U.S. Highway 101.

The nonprofit group Save-the-Redwoods League has gathered $60 million to purchase the land from Millers Stimson Lumber Company and plans to turn the property over to the California Redwoods State Park after the purchase.

By making it parkland, the supervisors complain, the county will lose thousands of dollars per year in property and timber-yield taxes.

To offset the income loss, the county asked Save-the-Redwoods director Kate Anderton and Miller to come up with a $10 million trust fund for the countys struggling budget.

But according to Andertons calculations, $2 million should be enough. She said she has actively tried to find grants and other donations to create the fund, but with no success.

Strom-Martin has offered her help to Save-the-Redwoods League to secure millions in government grants to purchase the future parkland.

Now, she said she is working to offset the burden of the land loss to the county.

Thats the goal and the meeting was very cordial. Im very impressed with everyone involved, she said.

No new meeting date has been set to continue the negotiations, even though Strom-Martin said talks are not over.