The 19 tracts that make up the Cowee ownership are found in three states (New York, Vermont and Massachusetts) spread throughout four counties and comprising 22,701 acres. Most of the acreage, is located in New York followed by Vermont and a small potion in Massachusetts. Three of tracts, totaling about 5,422 acres, or about 24% of the total, and located in the New York southern Taconic cluster, are subject to a conservation easement held by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC). The property ownership has been divided into four (4) compartments, for the sake of description, analysis and forest management planning. These compartments are based on four geographic clusters: the Rensselaer Plateau, 9,141 acres; the southern Taconic cluster, 6,449 acres; the northern Taconic cluster, 7,088 acres; and the Berlin mill complex, 57 acres. The property has been professionally managed for many decades, with a well-established land record system.
|State||NY, VT, MA
|County||NY – Renssealaer, Washington; VT – Bennington; MA – Berkshire|
|Previous Owner||W. J. Cowee|
|Dominant Forest Type||90% Appalachian Hardwood 10% Spruce-Fir|
|Address||16 Centre Street, Suite 1 Concord, NH – 03301|
The subject property consists of two clusters of tracts, located on the border of east central New York and along the western boundaries of two other states: Vermont and Massachusetts. Both clusters lie within the Southern New England and New York, Uplands physiographic region, more specifically in two smaller adjoining physiographic areas, the Taconic Mountain Range and the Rensselaer Plateau. Over 73% of the property is located in New York, largely in Rensselaer County, with a smaller amount in Washington County. The 26% that lies in Vermont is in Bennington County, and the remaining 1% of land in Massachusetts is found in Berkshire County.
The Cowee mill is situated in Berlin, New York, just east of Route 22, a state highway. This 57 acre complex, an operating firewood processor, and an office complex with several tenants are owned by HFF. This complex is center to the NY and MA holdings, while the VT lands are located to the north, some 30-40 miles along with the remaining two NY tracts. The ownership stretches some 50 miles north to south, from Stephentown, NY to Rupert, VT, and about 20 miles east-west.
This assemblage of tracts is a residual group of tracts out of a formerly much larger portfolio assembled by W.J. Cowee, the founder of the existing company, in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, to provide wood for the plant stake and turning mill he developed in Berlin, N.Y. The majority of this acreage was comprised of large high mountain tracts supporting hardwood timber, located throughout the same region as the subject portfolio. Over the last twenty-five years, as the manufacturing operation has gradually declined, many of the original tracts have been sold. The present ownership comprises a residual group of the largest along with some more poorly accessed tracts.
The timber resource can be divided into to general types based primarily on their geographic regions, the Rensselaer County Highlands and the Taconic Mountain Range. The Rensselaer County Highlands forest cover is predominantly oak-pine-birch although pockets of the cherry-maple or northern hardwood type can be found within the region. The Taconic Mountain Range follows New York’s eastern border with Vermont and Massachusetts. This region supports generally deep and well drained soils resulting in a maple-ash-birch dominated northern hardwood type. Across the ownership, the forest condition can generally be considered very good to excellent. Timber data reveals 86% hardwood and 14% softwood across the ownership with Sugar maple, oak (predominantly red oak), and red maple accounting for 55% of the total merchantable volume. The Cowee property was historically a portion of the wood supply for the Cowee Forest Product’s firewood operations in Berlin, New York.