Headwaters Forest represents an excellent timber investment opportunity with attractive species composition, diverse diameter distribution, and superior access. The land also offers a great recreational amenity by supporting the development of a camp building.
The ownership, Vermont Land Trust (VLT), acquired the land in 2017 from the Wolloch Family, who formerly owned the property since 1983. The family sold to VLT to ensure the property will remain as a long-term forest resource. As part of the 2022 Worcester Woods Project to protect 6,500 acres from future development, the VLT has transferred a conservation easement on the land to the State of Vermont, which will oversee the easement terms. VLT’s goal in divesting is to raise funds to further its forestland conservation work on new projects.
Investment highlights include:
Headwaters Forest is located along both sides of Route 12 between Montpelier and Morrisville in Elmore, Vermont. Elmore is a hilly, rural town known for its popular lake, mountain, and State Park of the same name, all just north of the property. A landscape of scattered valley farms, widely dispersed hillside homes, and working forests define the town, with a classic Vermont country store, post office, town hall, and lakeside camps occupying its small village center.
Route 12 runs north-south through the town, providing access to the state capital of Montpelier and Interstate 89, 17 miles to the south. Nine miles to the north is Morrisville and Routes 15 and 100. These major roads provide ideal transportation corridors to regional and Canadian forest product mills from the property.
The landscape just west of Route 12 is characterized by the high-elevation Worcester Range, a 15-mile long, north-south series of mountains. Most of this range is part of the C.C. Putnam State Forest. Sweeping views of the Worcester Range are visible from the property’s mid to upper elevated areas.
The land has roughly 1.6 miles of frontage on both sides of Route 12, a paved state highway. There are various old driveways that have previously been used in association with former forest management activities. A right of way through the lands to the west provides a good access option for the land west of the wetland complex.
Old internal woods trails extend throughout the property. In addition, a mountain bike trail exists at the land’s northwestern end.
The property straddles the headwaters of two major Vermont watersheds and rivers. Most of the land sits within the Winooski River Watershed, with the headwaters of the North Branch of the Winooski River running through the length of the land along its western side of Route 12. This year-round river creates a wetland complex along much of its flow through the property. The extreme northwestern corner of the land sits within the Lamoille River Watershed, draining into Little Elmore Pond and north to Elmore Pond Brook. The property has an open water beaver pond and touches Little Elmore Pond within this area. At the land's southeastern section, Barnes Brook flows through the property.
Most of the terrain is gently sloping towards the access with primarily a western aspect (however, eastern and southern aspects exist). With the exception of the 55 acres of wetland, all of the terrain will support a mechanical harvesting operation, and the access easily allows chip vans to enter the property, providing greater options in the future to access low-grade forest products markets.
The height of land exists along a ridge at the land's eastern side with an elevation of 1,840'. This unnamed ridge extends along the eastern boundary. The elevational low point is 1,220', where the North Branch leaves the property.
The northwestern tip of the property touches the scenic Little Elmore Pond, and in this area, an active beaver population has created an open water wetland. An old woods trail leads to this area.
Timber data are based on a timber inventory conducted in July of 2016. Upon adding growth since 2016, the data reveal a total sawlog volume of 3,250 MBF International ¼" scale (5.1 MBF/acre) and 12,801 pulpwood cords (20.0 cords/acre). The combined total per acre volume is 30.2 cords, a figure above the regional average. Stumpage values have been assigned in February of 2022 by F&W Forestry Services, producing a property-wide Capital Timber Value (CTV) of $559,100 ($873/acre).
A species composition dominated by hardwoods prevails, with hardwoods at 69% and softwoods at 31% of total volume. Species composition for all products combined offers a favorable mix led by red maple (27%), spruce/fir (26%), sugar maple (14%), yellow birch (11%), white ash (6%), with other common northern hardwoods and hemlock as associates making up the balance. The sawlog volume breakdown consists largely of species with historically strong demand, dominated by spruce/fir, The Maples, and yellow birch.
Overall, forest stocking is variable, with stocked to overstocked conditions in nearly all stands. Natural regeneration is abundant in most areas. Wetlands account for +/-55 acres with no property value assigned to this area.
The average Basal Area (BA) is 113 ft2 on 252 stems/acre. The Acceptable Growing Stock (AGS) basal area is 59 ft2, indicating overall good tree form and quality, helping to provide robust asset appreciation in the coming decades.
Notable is the limited beech component in both the overstory and within the regeneration, a situation that will allow regeneration of other preferred species in the future.
The property's 2016 forest management plan has delineated nine forest operating stands.
Forest management last occurred in the early to mid-1990s (nearly 30 years ago).
The management plan calls for thinning in stands 4 & 7, covering 163 acres. This forest management activity will generate roughly $40,000-$50,00 of income for the ownership.
Parts of the eastern side of the property likely hold a maple resource that may support a commercial sugaring operation. It's possible this side of the property could offer nearly 9,000-10,000 taps. Electric power exists at the land's northern boundary.
The conservation easement on the property is held by the State of Vermont, Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation. The seller, Vermont Land Trust (VLT), has been the owner since 2017, acquiring the land from the Wolloch Family, whose wishes were to ensure the property would remain as a productive, unfragmented forest resource landscape. In early 2022 the VLT transferred a conservation easement to the State of Vermont. A copy of the conservation easement is available upon request.
A working forest "partnership" with the State of Vermont, Agency of Natural Resources, offers the new owner predictability and cooperation, given the long history and solid reputation this Agency has in overseeing other conservation easements under its stewardship.
A principal objective of the easement is to minimize the ecological impacts of a managed forest resource to provide a long-term source of forest products.
Easement highlights include: