Markham Mountain Forest represents an attractive, long-term timber investment opportunity, dominated by sugar maple, which provides an additional opportunity in the form of the possibility for a large-scale sugarbush operation. The land’s conservation easement allows for development of a homesite and associated structures, plus a camp in the woods.
The current owner is Vermont Land Trust and their goal in divesting is to raise funds to further their forestland conservation work on new projects.
Property highlights include:
The property is located in south-central Vermont, midway between two significant ski resorts and just a moment’s drive from the charming village of Weston.
The property is generally located in a forested region of Vermont, where hillsides and valleys are dotted with second homes, given the close proximity to the ski resorts and their associated village communities. Okemo Mountain Resort is 16 miles to the north and is supported by the village of Ludlow, which hosts various restaurants, a grocery store, building supply retailer, lodging and other services. Stratton Ski Resort is located 15 miles to the south; on the way there, the road passes through the village of Londonderry, which hosts a farmers market, restaurants and other services. Just 1.6 miles to the west of the land is the small tourist village of Weston, host of the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company, the Vermont Country Store, a museum and other small stores.
Boston is a 2.5-hour drive to the southeast and New York City is a 4-hour drive to the south.
The property has ±2.514’ of road frontage along Weston-Andover Road, a paved state road that connects the towns of Chester to the east and Weston and Route 100 to the west. Route 100 runs to Ludlow and Stratton. Electric and cable service is available from this road frontage, and an existing driveway cut is located at the height of land along the road.
The land has additional frontage along Blanchard Road, a town-maintained gravel road with electric power. The first ±880’ of frontage along this road is town maintained and well suited to driveway development for home construction. The land also has an additional ±750’ of frontage along this road that is not town-maintained (Class 4 road status). Towards the end of this frontage is an established driveway that was recently used in the forest management operation.
The property spans nearly 1.1 miles from east to west and nearly 0.7 miles from north to south. This considerable footprint covers gently-sloping terrain near the road frontage areas and moderate to steep terrain as the slopes rise to the top of Markham Mountain at the property’s southwestern corner.
A potential homesite near Weston-Andover Road would allow for a level yard area and nice views of Markham Mountain, the Andover Ridge and a somewhat distant view of the landscape to the east. The aspect here is northerly and easterly.
The potential homesite along Blanchard Road offers level terrain for the creation of a large yard and establishment of a meadow. Views would be of the local mountains, including Markham Mountain, and the aspect is east to slightly south.
The property’s terrain includes Markham Mountain at an elevation of 2,460’ ASL (above sea level). The top of the mountain is surprisingly level, providing for an excellent hiking destination within the land’s boundary. From the mountaintop, nearly all of the land slopes to the north and east to a low elevation of 1,500’ ASL along Blanchard Road. Woods trails have been created throughout the property from the recent forest management activity that occurred on the land a few years back. These trails are the perfect foundation to create a comprehensive trail system over the land.
One small stream originates on the land and runs at a trickle during the summer months. It feeds a small open water wetland on the property near Blanchard Road.
The timber data is based on a monumented and comprehensive timber inventory, conducted in the spring of 2020 by F&W Forestry Services. Stumpage values were assigned to the volumes in May of 2020, producing a property-wide Capital Timber Value (CTV) of $383,900 ($816/commercial acre).
A species composition dominated by hardwoods prevails, with hardwoods at 97% and softwoods at 3% of total volume, reflective of a well-drained upper slope site. Species composition for all products combined offers a favorable mix and is led by sugar maple at 45% of total volume, followed by yellow birch (15%), white ash (14%), red maple (9%) and beech (7%), with other miscellaneous species making up the balance. The sawlog volume breakdown consists largely of species with historically strong demand, dominated by sugar maple, white ash, yellow birch and red maple.
Overall, forest stocking is variable, with some areas adequately stocked and other areas somewhat understocked in areas where the forest harvest activity was more aggressive. Average Basal Area (BA) is 78 square feet on 153 stems/acre. The Acceptable Growing Stock BA is 51 square feet.
Stem quality for all age classes is good, providing for robust asset appreciation in the coming decades.
The timber data reveal a gross tap count of 21,700 (46 taps/acre). Assuming that 80% of the gross taps are suitable for use in a sugarbush, net taps are estimated to be 17,375. 83% of the taps are sugar maple. While the tap density is not overly high, the terrain sloping towards the roads and power combined offers a good sugarbush opportunity.
The conservation easement on the property will be held by Vermont Land Trust (VLT), 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 respected reputation this land trust has established.
A principal objective of the easement is to maintain and promote healthy and abundant forest resources. The terms of the easement prevent subdivision and future development; however, forestry and sugarbush operations, and construction of associated support infrastructure, are permitted. Additionally a building envelope of 5 acres (location to be determined) allows the ownership to build a home of any size along with all homesite outbuildings.
Easement highlights include: