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Old Buffalo Forest

West Fairlee, Orange County, VT
Price: $414,000
Acres: 264
Type: Timber
Availability: Sold
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Site Description


For the last 35 years, the forest management objective of this property has been the promotion of high-quality sawlogs and veneer through an asset appreciation silvicultural regime. The property is well-suited to the investor seeking a timber investment, whether long or short-term.      

Property highlights include:

  • Desirable species composition with value dominated by maple, oak, ash, and pine;
  • High overall stocking with an average of 29 total cords per acre;
  • Diameter distribution represented largely by 65-100-year-old stems, with a sawlog volume of 5.6 MBF/acre;
  • Exceptional stem quality in both the sawlog and growing stock classes;
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified management practices;
  • Developed access, enabling full property coverage for future forestry activity;
  • Low carrying cost with taxes of $1,067/year;
  • Subdivision potential with multiple camp-building options.


The property is located in a rural forested region in east-central Vermont, where homes are widely scattered and small family farms occupy the fertile valleys.

The location is appealing given its proximity (5 miles) to Lake Fairlee, a small lakeside community that has shaped this rural location to include summer homes and numerous camps. Closer to the property, the hamlet of West Fairlee Center hosts a church and community center, serving as the gateway to Bear Notch Road and the Property, 1.5 miles beyond.

The land’s convenient positioning to the I-91 corridor (11 miles to the east) enhances the capacity for efficiently transporting forest products to various markets within Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and across the border into Quebec, Canada.

The Town of Fairlee and Exit 15 along I-91 are 11 miles to the east. Fairlee hosts various stores, restaurants, Lake Morey, and the Lake Morey Resort & Golf Course. A strong jobs market exists within the Upper White River Valley, with the Towns of Norwich and Hanover located 21 miles south.


Primary access to the property is provided by Bear Notch Road, a Class 4, unmaintained town road which runs through the western portion of the land (this road is used as a snowmobile trail during winter months). The property’s southern boundary is roughly 1.5 miles from town-maintained Middlebrook Road to the south. Once on the property, there is an established 1-acre cleared landing 1,000’ into the land on the west side of the access road. The entire length of the access road to the landing from Middlebrook Road is in excellent condition and suitable for all forestry truck traffic.

Scruton Hill Road, a Class 4 town road, provides access to the property’s eastern end, forming the eastern boundary for 0.3 miles. This road was significantly upgraded within the last three years, providing log truck and car access to this eastern side of the land.

Boundary lines were updated with red paint in +/-2011; therefore, the boundaries remain in good condition, with no maintenance required for another five or so years.

Site Description

The property has been shaped by its former uses, including an intensive period of farming and homesteading going back to the late 1700s. Field evidence, such as an old cellar hole, a historic bridge abutment, stone walls, and a mill water abutment, have all been noted in the forest. Nearly all of the land was formally used for agricultural activity. Today, most of the forest stands became established naturally after farming gradually ended in the late 1800s, reflecting historical property use patterns.

The property is set at the northern reaches of the Bear Notch Valley, which defines the majority of the land’s terrain. The headwaters of Bear Notch Brook flow through this tight valley, with nearly 80% of the terrain sloping towards the Bear Notch access road. The Old Buffalo mountain peak sits just to the north of the land, creating a ridge at the forest’s eastern end where the remaining land slopes to Scruton Road. Elevations range from 1,420’ along the ridge to 860’, where the brook leaves the property. 

The terrain is dominated by moderate to steep slopes, well-suited to a combination of traditional and fully-mechanized forest operational equipment. However, some of the steepest slopes will require conventional logging equipment and associated trail-building machinery. With the exception of a few isolated low-lying areas, soils are well-drained with average productivity.

The land supports some nice camp development sites along Bear Notch Road or Scrutton Hill Road.


Timber data in this report are based on a comprehensive and monumented timber inventory conducted in August 2016 by F&W Forestry Services. Fifty-nine points were sampled, covering a 450’ X 450’ grid using a 15-factor prism. Sampling statistics were ±16.9% standard error for sawlog products and ±11.6% for all products combined at the 95% confidence interval, figures well within industry standards. Upon applying growth for 2017-2022 and subtracting harvest volumes for a thinning in 2022 and another small thinning in the winter of 2022, the timber data reveal a total sawlog volume of 1,401 MBF International ¼” scale (5.5 MBF/commercial acre) with 4,474 pulpwood cords (17.5 cords/commercial acre). The combined total commercial per acre volume is 28.9 cords, a figure in excess of the regional average. Based on this information, stumpage values were assigned by F&W in March of 2023, producing a property-wide Capital Timber Value (CTV) of $272,000 ($1,029/total acre).

Sawlog Value/ Thinning History:

Sawlog value is largely dominated by maple, ash and oak (66%), with white pine (10%) and yellow birch (9%) comprising much of the balance. 

Most of the Old Buffalo Forest has seen moderate silvicultural activity during the last ten years, consisting of thinning and shelterwood harvests. The more recent activity was in 2018 within stands 8-10 (eastern side of the land) in the form of thinning. In winter 2022, roughly 35% of stands 1, 3 & 5 were thinned.

Diameter Distribution:

The average diameter for all products combined is 14.0”, with the sawlogs slightly above 15”, indicating a forest with components approaching financial maturity. Average sawlog diameters for key species include sugar maple at 14.5”, white ash at 15.0”, and white pine at 17.5” (mature). While the forest possesses growing stock within the 5-10” diameter classes, the majority of the stocking is middle-aged (65-85 years old). The considerable volume within the 18” and greater diameters also represents a sizeable mature age class. This latter attribute is a testament to the long-term asset appreciation silviculture conducted on the property over the past 35 years, the goal of which was to promote high-valued sawlogs and veneer

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