Tri-Lot Forest represents an affordable timber and/or sugarbush opportunity with attractive species composition, productive soils, good access and a diameter distribution which supports cash flow and product shifting over the next 20 years. 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:
Tri-Lot Forest is located in a scenic part of northern Vermont near the spine of the Green Mountain Range and long-distance Long Trail 1.5 miles to the east. Just to the west is the spine of the Cold Hollow Mountains, with the property occupying their western slopes near the narrow Route 118 valley. The immediate area is mountainous, rural and mostly forested. The Cold Hollow Mountains are the last range before this part of Vermont’s landscape transitions to the more gently sloping Champlain Valley to the west.
The small hamlet of Montgomery Center, which has a ski town influence from nearby Jay Peak Resort, is 6 miles to the north. Johnson, Vermont, the largest nearby town is 17 miles to the south and is home to Johnson State College. Burlington, Vermont’s largest city, is 56 miles to the southwest while Montreal, Canada, is 81 miles to the northwest.
The property’s access is from Route 118, which bisects the eastern tip of the land. A year-round truck road constructed off Route 118 heads southwesterly into the land for roughly 800’ to a landing. From this point, a well-defined trail, which can easily be converted to a winter or all-season road, continues into the land for roughly 1,000’, ending at the edge of a wetland complex.
Electric power and phone service are provided along Route 118, which is a paved state corridor providing excellent access to forest product markets regionally and into Canada.
The property’s center is defined by mostly gently-sloping terrain with a series of scenic beaver ponds along the stream which flows through the land from the north to the southeast. The eastern section of the forest (between the ponds and Route 118) has mostly moderate sloping terrain with a tight valley between two high points. Some terrain in this area is steep and has rock outcropping; however, all areas are considered commercially operable.
West of the ponds, the land steadily rises over moderate to, at times, steep terrain. The steep sections generally occur in short widths with operable old trails traversing through, or adjacent to, the steep terrain runs. The southern part of the property has a ridge where the terrain wraps around its height of land.
Elevation ranges from 1,200’ along the road frontage to 2,362’ at the land’s western tip, creating largely eastern exposure. However, some areas have a southern aspect. With the highest elevation at the land’s western end, much of the land offers a natural flow toward the road frontage, facilitating a potential sugarbush setup. From a timber management perspective, the overall access can be considered good; however, steep terrain in some pockets will require special harvest considerations.
Timber data in this report are based on a monumented and comprehensive timber inventory, conducted in November 2015. The timber data reveal a total sawlog volume of 2,190 MBF International ¼” scale (5.3 MBF/commercial acre) with 7,442 pulpwood cords (18.0 cords/commercial acre). Combined total commercial per acre volume is 28.5 cords, a figure above the regional average. Stumpage values were assigned to the volumes in February of 2017, producing a property-wide Capital Timber Value (CTV) of $464,100 ($1,031/total acre).
A species composition dominated by hardwoods prevails, with hardwoods at 92% and softwoods at 8% of total volume. The sawlog volume breakdown consists largely of sugar maple (40%), yellow birch (29%) and red maple (13%). Forest stocking is generally overstocked on most of the acreage. The average Basal Area (BA) is 107 square feet on 199 stems/acre. Acceptable growing stock BA is 65 square feet, a level which can fully occupy the growing space upon thinning of the lower-quality stems and beech. Silvicultural activity was conducted by the previous ownership roughly 27 years ago. Based on current stocking levels, thinning activity can occur at anytime. Average diameter for the three major species is: sugar maple 13.5”, yellow birch 14”, and red maple 14.5”.
The property offers a potential sugarbush opportunity, given the level of maple stocking, slope factor, access and proximity to electric power. The timber data indicate a total gross tap count of 22,495 gross taps, with roughly 75% of the taps from sugar maple with the balance from red maple. Note that the tap estimate includes maple stems from all commercial acreage; however, some of the acreage may not offer sugarbush potential due to slope and lower density maple areas. For this reason, not all of the estimated gross taps from the timber data (perhaps only 60-70%) will be available for taping from an economic standpoint.
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.
Easement highlights include: