Little Hogback Community Forest

Project Journal

 

 

 

May, 2007

We currently have 16 families committed to purchasing the 16 shares in the Little Hogback Community Forest. We expect to closing to occur shortly. Shareholders have begun the process of getting to know one another, sharing stories of who they are and why they've chosen to participate in the Little Hogback Community Forest Project.

December 2, 2006

David Brynn and Deb Brighton led this outing to update potential shareholders on the project. Participants viewed the post-harvest forest, walking the new access road that was dry in spite of rain the day before, tangible proof of the great work by logger Bill Torrey , who built the access road and harvested the trees. Participants then met for a post-walk coffee-and-muffin session where everyone had a chance to ask and answer questions. At this point it looks as though we have two shares that haven’t been spoken for. These two are reserved for households with incomes below $63,100. With the deferred loan the payment price for each of these shares would be $1,425.

October 30, 2006

After more than a year and a half of waiting, we've at last received IRS approval for the tax-exempt status of the Community Forests Project! With that major hurtle jumped, we're ready to move forward with the project. Though the delay on the ruling stalled the process of selling the land to interested shareholders, the planned timber harvest (described in the Peoples Prospectus) has moved ahead as scheduled. We plan to host a forest walk on Saturday, December 2, 2006 from 9 - 10:30 a.m.. David Brynn and Deb Brighton will lead that outing, during which we'll see the land and road after the timber harvest; talk about firewood; update people on any changes in the project; find out who is interested in participating in the project and what concerns and questions remain; and show the land to any people who haven’t been there yet.

June 14, 2005

If you've been following the progress of the Little Hogback Community Forests Project, you know that the price that the parcel will be sold to shareholders for is well below the “fair market value” of the land. First, the Vermont Land Trust will hold a conservation easement that reduces the price of the land. Second, a sponsor will donate additional funds to further reduce the price to one that can be supported by returns from careful management.

 

The IRS has never ruled on this second step and so we must go through some additional paperwork and reviews so they can decide whether or not we are giving “excess private benefits” to you, the shareholders. We have a lawyer and an accountant working as a team to push this through the bureaucratic process, but it is taking more time than anyone imagined.

 

Meanwhile, the forest is ignoring the paperwork delay and leafing out with energy. Logger Bill Torrey has begun to cut trees marked under the forest's VFF FSC-certified management plan. He has repaired the roads to avoid steep slopes and to prevent erosion. This also means that walking is easier.

 

The returns from the logging will go into the account that will be used to pay for property taxes, insurance and management of the parcel as originally planned. The Vermont Land Trust (VLT) has been extremely accommodating in allowing us to continue with the logging job even though we were not sure when the shareholders would be able to purchase the parcel.

 

Our plan is to convert some of the logs from the land into VFF/VLT flooring so that we can maximize the return to shareholders. Are you looking for hardwood flooring from a healthy, well-managed, local forest? If so, please give VFF a call.

Timber Harvest, Little Hogback Community Forest. Logs on the landing at Little Hogback Community Forest. Each log is end-coated with Anchorseal to discourage checking (splitting of the log ends due to more rapid drying)

 

February 8, 2005

The dates of the lottery, LLC formation, and closing on the land have not been set. Deb sent out (via Email) the latest round of results after going over the feedback, questions and issues raised from our earlier meetings.We'll post them on the web soon, but if you didn't receive a copy for some reason, contact Deb at 352-9074 or brighton@sover.net and request the "project update" piece and we'll get it out to you.

 

February 6, 2005

                                             

Little Hogback Community Forest Hike II, February 6, 2005: Sharing a cookie break at the "summit" of the Little Hogback forest.

Today a group of eight adults, one energetic ten year old and three dogs made the loop through the forest. It was one more in a string of beautiful days. On today's venture, after a pleasant pause on the sunny ridge (and a long view out to Bristol Pond and Hogback Mtn), we hooked around to the northern boundry to try to pick up a trail extension coming up from the southern property line. Not finding where the two trails converged, we followed earlier snow shoe tracks, slip-sliding down a short pitch to meet up with the trail that led us out. On the way we admired the potential for a nice afternoon ski on this old access road.

January 23, 2005

       

Little Hogback Community Forest Hike, January 23, 2005: Fourteen participants join LHCF leader Deb Brighton to explore the 115-acre Little Hogback forest.

 

It was a bright winter day today and cold, with temperature readings in the single digits and 6"of new snow on the ground. Geared with snowshoes, and all of us layered up, we met at the roadside property line to explore the woods for the first time as a group. We warmed up quickly as the access trails took us on a gradual climb up the southwest-facing slope of the Little Hogback.

A ways into the trees, David Brynn stopped by a northern red oak, marked with a blue blaze to explain some of the particulars of the pending timber sale. We received an intro course on the use of the VFF maple “cruising stick”, giving us a way to measure the potential grade of log, and volume of wood, that this one tree would yield.

It felt good to turn our snowshoes to the hill again and resume the warming hike that led us up through beech, ash and oak groves along the western property line. The colorful procession swapped stories and bits of forest knowledge until we arrived at the ridge clearing. Now in the open, the breeze carried the loose snow into swirls as dogs and large footed people gathered briefly at the top. Deb shared a batch of cookies and over the hill we shuffled down the steeper pitch of the southeast slope.

Emerging from this heavily wooded section of the forest onto the access trail, the group followed it down through the main part of the marked timber sale area. Before long the road came into view, snowshoes were stowed inside warming vehicles and saying good-bye for now, we set off toward home.

 

January 20, 2005

There was a good turnout tonight in Bristol for the third public presentation outlining the goals and prospects for the Community Forest in Monkton. With weather still a factor, twenty people gathered again at Howden Hall against a brittle cold blast of arctic air. This presentation, following the format of our previous two meetings, touched on VFF forestry practices and offered a visual glimpse of the land with a short slide show. The bulk of the evening was spent with Deb going through the Peoples Prospectus which generated a good deal of discussion and provided answers to many of the questions that people brought with them.

We have planned a group walk on the property for the coming weekend. We'll be meeting on Boro Hill Rd at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday Jan. 23. There's the possibility of catching the northern edge of a major winter storm that's developing so you'll want to bring snowshoes and warm clothing.

 

January 6, 2005

Amid one of the few snowfalls of the season, we held our second public meeting for the Little Hogback Community Forest LLC at Howden Hall in Bristol.
Tonight's group discussed a number of the organizational details, including firewood allocation and cutting and hunting.

When the question of running the LLC as an owner-managed or manager-managed organization was raised, a show of hands indicated unanimous interest in having VFF administer the LLC, at least for the first few years until the group was on its feet. For more information on this aspect of LLC management, see the Peoples Prospectus (page 3, “Running The LLC”).

We received several calls from would-be participants, expressing their regrets at not being able to make tonight's meeting, due to slippery roads. Because of this we have scheduled one more public meeting, to be held at Howden Hall, on Thursday January 20, 7:00pm to 8:30pm.

                  

Community Forest Project Public Information Meetings --January 4 & 6, 2005. 28 community members attended two public meetings to learn more about participating in the Little Hogback Community Forest LLC. Community Forest Project manager Deb Brighton (center picture, on right) explained the LLC's organizational and financial details.

 

January 4, 2005

The first public meeting describing the Little Hogback Community Forest, LLC (LHCF) was held tonight at the Ilsley library in Middlebury, after several years of behind-the-scenes planning. Twenty people listened to a 1-1/2 hour presentation by Vermont Family Forests associates Deb Brighton and Netaka White, and David Brynn, VFF founder.

Netaka provided both an aerial and ground tour of the property with a slide presentation, and David discussed VFF's mission and its application within the LHCF project and gave an overview of the property's forest ecology. Deb took the group step-by-step through the Peoples Prospectus , explaining the LLC's organizational and financial details.

Several people asked about our time line and how soon we thought the LLC would come together. To a large extent, that will depend on the pace that potential investors set. In order to make the purchase from Vermont Land Trust, all sixteen shares in the LLC must be sold, and if the meetings continue to generate this level of enthusiasm, we can anticipate doing so within a couple of months. In the mean time, we'll be leading a walk of the property on January 23rd at 2pm. We also welcome you to explore the property on your own at any time.