Houghton Brook Forest represents a long-term timber investment that is offered at a price only slightly above the value of the standing timber. While this asking price assigns nearly no value to the underlying “dirt,” the land’s surveyed subdivision into 7 woodlots offers diversification of future land uses and value uplift.
The property’s history includes former ownership by Fairbanks Scales Company, a well-known, American manufacturer of scales. The company used the property (including much of the adjoining state land that it also used to own) to provide forest products to its factory that produced platform scales in nearby St. Johnsbury in the late 1800’s and into the middle of the 1900’s.
Property highlights include:
· Timber value of $406,000;
· Productive, young forest resource;
· Secure access;
· Existing, surveyed subdivision into seven individual woodlots;
· Mostly gentle terrain, 3-year round brooks, and adjacent 10,826 acres of state land.
Houghton Brook Forest is in northeastern Vermont on the edge of a region known as the Northeast Kingdom. Danville is in an area of high elevation running eastward from the Green Mountains before the land tips down to the Connecticut River Valley. Because of its high position adjacent to a valley, wide landscape views can be enjoyed from several vantage points. Saint Johnsbury and I-91 are 9 miles to the east of the property while Montpelier and I-89 are 24 miles to the west. Montreal, Quebec is 2.5 hours to the northwest and Boston, Massachusetts, is 3 hours to the southeast.
Access is provided by a 49.5’ right-of-way road that begins off McDowell Road (TH 26) and heads westerly for 1,232.8’ to the property’s eastern boundary. The road is currently not drivable; however, with modest upgrades it would be well suited for vehicle and log truck traffic.
Internal access is provided by a continuation of this road into the land for 1,760’. At this point, the road forks, with the northern fork extending 1,080’ and the southern fork running 2,970’. A VAST (Vermont Association of Snow Travellers) snow machine trail runs along part of this internal road system, offering good recreational opportunity and woods road maintenance from the local VAST group.
The property is framed between Houghton Brook to the north and Cary Brook to the south, both year-round brooks. Another un-named brook nearly bisects the land, with each watershed originating just to the west along the range in the adjacent, 10,826-acre, state-owned Steam Mill Wildlife Management Area.
Topography is primarily gentle with a few moderate to steep slopes leading to the land’s two high ridges. Views from these nearly 2,000’ peaks are exceptional, with the southern peak partially cleared roughly 8 years ago to expose the view (a woods trail leads to this area). Elevation ranges from 2,044’ at the highest peak to 1,437’ where Houghton Brook runs off the property. The property’s overall high elevation offers attractive potential views to the east from each subdivided lot. Most of the soils are well drained, with the exception an area within the upper reaches of the un-named brook that bisects the land.
Timber data in this report are based on a timber inventory, conducted in the winter of 2014 for the purpose of updating the property’s Use Value Appraisal enrollment. 71 points were sampled (1 plot per 10 acres), covering a 655’ X 655’ grid using a 10-factor prism. The timber data reveals a total sawlog volume of 2,099 MBF International ¼” scale (2.9 MBF/ acre) with 13,197 pulpwood cords (18.5 cords/acre). Combined total commercial per acre volume is 24.4 cords, a figure about average for the region. Stumpage values were assigned to the volumes in March of 2017, producing a property-wide Capital Timber Value (CTV) of $406,000 ($570/total acre).
The species composition is dominated by hardwoods (74%) with softwoods holding the balance (26%). Species composition for the sawlog volume breakdown consists of spruce/fir (32%) and sugar maple (19%), with yellow birch, red maple, white birch, cedar and other miscellaneous species each holding roughly 10%. The softwood sawlog species component offers harvest income earlier during the investment period (softwoods mature much sooner than hardwoods), diversifying income flows.
Forest density is generally represented by fully-stocked stands covering most of the acreage. The exception is within some areas that were harvested in 2005 and 2007 (covering roughly 35% of the acreage). Average diameter for all products combined is 9.0”, while the average sawlog diameter is nearly 11.5". The diameter distribution indicates a fairly young, even-aged forest structure with the majority of volume in the growing stock to small sawlog size classes (57% of the total pulpwood is within the 5-8” size class). However, the resource is of very good quality and species composition, well positioned for product shifts into the small sawlog size class.