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Jay-Richford Forest

Richford and Jay, Franklin County and Orleans County, VT
05476
Price: $2,370,000
Acres: 2,605
Type: Timber
Availability: Available
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Introduction
Location
Access
Site Description
Timber
Special Features
Easement

Introduction

The Forest is a long-term timber and/or immediate sugarbush opportunity with attractive species composition, productive soils, developed access and excellent potential for asset appreciation from the timber resource. The ownership, Atlas Timberlands Partnership, is a collaboration between two well-known conservation groups - The Nature Conservancy and the Vermont Land Trust. Together, they have held the property (along with other lands) as a model for managing a diverse array of stewardship goals, including the practice of sustainable silvicultural operations. Their goal in divesting is to raise funds to further their forestland conservation work on new projects.

Investment highlights include:

  • Species dominated by sugar maple (63%);
  • Middle-aged, mostly fully stocked overstory, well-positioned for asset appreciation;
  • Excellent access with power nearby;
  • Sugarbush opportunity with ±159,000  gross potential taps from stems 10” and greater on north-facing slopes with good sap-flow conditions to access locations;
  • Average of 61 taps/acre.

Location

The Forest lies in the northern Vermont township of Richford & Jay, the latter home to the Jay Peak Ski Resort situated 10 miles to the south. The ski hamlets of Montgomery and Montgomery Center are situated 16 and 18 miles to the southwest. Richford is the largest nearby town which is located 9 miles to the west along Route 105.  The region along Route 105 is highly scenic, showcasing the tall peaks of the northern Green Mountain Range, and is rich with recreation opportunities, including the Long Trail, which passes just east of the land.

The property has long frontage along Route 105, one of the area’s main transportation corridors, which runs east-west, providing exceptional access to forest product markets north of the border in Quebec, Canada, as well as regional US markets. 

Vermont’s largest city, Burlington, is 1.2 hours to the southwest. Montreal is under a 2-hour drive to the northwest and Boston is 4 hours southeast. The Canadian border is located roughly 1.2 miles from the land’s northern boundary.

Access

The property offers excellent access to three of the five watersheds. The land’s 2.9 miles of paved frontage along Route 105 offers exceptional access to Watershed Zones #1 & #2, with established landings along the State road. Electric power is located near the center of the Route 105 road frontage.

Access to Watershed Zone #4 is provided by an established right-of-way road that commences from the end of the Stevens Mills Slide Road and runs easterly +/-1,890’ to the boundary.  Electric power is roughly 1.2 miles from  Watershed Zone #4.

Access to the small Watershed Zone #3 has traditionally been through the neighbor to the west and is a short distance (+/-800’) from the boundary to Stevens Mills Slide Road through the neighbor where power is available along the town road.

While developed access is provided to Watershed Zone #5, there is a gap in the legal right to use this road as it runs through the lands of Blair (see marketing maps). However, this road has been used to access this zone over the past many decades.

Well-developed woods trails run throughout much of the property, facilitating future management of the forest.

Site Description

The property’s terrain is variable with moderate to steep slopes covering most of the land, however, all areas are operable with the exception of a few steep slopes along some drainages.  Generally, conditions for forest operations are very good within the acreage delineated for forest management or sugarbush operations. 

Soils are mostly well-drained, a site attribute that has resulted in the species composition largely dominated by sugar maple and yellow birch, species that thrive on well-drained, productive soils.

The various streams on the land originate on the property and at the top of their watersheds. During, rainy periods and snow melt these streams will swell and run fast, tumbling downhill over bounders and creating small falls.

Elevation ranges from 3,015’ ASL (Above Sea Level) along the southern boundary which follows 2.6 miles along several mountain peaks, to 985’ ASL near the Route 105 road frontage.

Timber

Timber data in this report are based on a monumented and comprehensive timber inventory completed in the fall of 2017. After applying growth for 2018-2021 using regional FIA data averages, the timber data reveal a total sawlog volume of 9,459 MBF International ¼” scale (3.6 MBF/commercial acre) with 39,884 pulpwood cords (15.3 cords/commercial acre). The combined total commercial per acre volume is 22.6 cords, close to the regional average. Stumpage values were assigned to the volumes in April of 2022, producing a property-wide Capital Timber Value (CTV) of $2,637,900 ($1,013/ acre). Note that the timber data is based only on the productive forest stands and NOT any of the acreages within the “No Touch” zone. See the Timber Valuation in this report for details.

A species composition dominated by hardwoods prevails, with hardwoods at 98% and softwoods at 2% of total volume. Species composition for all products combined offers a favorable mix and is led by sugar maple (63%), followed by yellow birch (21%), with other common hardwoods and softwoods comprising the balance. The sawlog volume breakdown consists largely of sugar maple (70%) and yellow birch (22%).

Forest density can generally be considered fully stocked, with the average Basal Area (BA) at 93 ft2 on 160 stems/acre.

The average diameter for all products combined is 13.5”, while the average sawlog diameter is 16.0”. The average diameter for the two main species are: sugar maple 15.5” and yellow birch 16.0”.

Special Features

The property represents an exceptional potential sugarbush opportunity, given the high maple stocking and terrain which slopes downhill to the access points. The timber data indicate a total gross potential tap count of 159,0000 taps, with 99% of the taps from sugar maple. Trees 9” and greater were considered, providing an average of 61 taps/acre, covering the property’s commercial acres. Also, the timber data indicate that an additional ±86,000 taps may become available in the coming decades from the maple resource within the 5-8” diameter class.

The tap estimate is broken down into five watershed zones (see Tap Map).  Note that while the Tap Map used 9” stems, the data was from 2017, and given growth since that period, it is assumed that most 9” stems are now 10” stems therefore, the gross tap count realistically starts at 10” and NOT 9’ stems.  

Easement

The conservation easement on the property will be held by the Vermont Land Trust (VLT), a Vermont-based organization and one of the most respected conservation organizations in the nation. A working forest “partnership” with VLT offers the new owner predictability and cooperation, given the long history and solid reputation this land trust has established regarding the easement lands under its jurisdiction.

A principal objective of the easement’s commercial acreage is to maintain, grow and harvest forest resources and products on a sustainable basis. The terms of the easement prevent subdivision and future development of any kind; however, forestry and sugarbush operations, and construction of associated support infrastructure, are permitted.

Easement highlights include:

  • Most sustainable and traditional forestry and sugarbush activities are permitted to support the long-term stewardship of the protected property;
  • The entire property is open to non-vehicular public recreation and hunting;
  • Silvicultural activities are limited to sustainable levels, with target diameters set for each species;
  • Ecological Protection Zones (EPZs - 1,419 acres), are “No Touch” and situated at the higher elevation and steep terrain;
  • One camp structure of 800 ft2 is permitted.
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