Looking for input on what to do with some property


#1

Wasn’t sure whether this was the right category to post this, so if it needs to be moved by all mean. Basically, I’m looking for input/suggestions on what to do with a piece of property that’s been in my family for 45 years. A little background…

It’s approximately 95 acres of land in Summers County W. VA. The closest town is Hinton, a little over 1 1/2 hours from Charleston. We’ve got a caretaker who comes in and looks after the place and keeps it cut back in exchange for hunting privileges. That’s worked out well.

The property is up on Chestnut Mountain…named because there used to be huge stands of Chestnut before they were wiped out…It is relatively remote and while there are some flat parts, the property is what I would describe as typical Appalachian holler, but it’s beautiful…

Aside from the intrinsic value, the land has some good stands of timber, white and red oak along with bunch of poplar (pics are not from areas where the timber is)…We’ve contracted with a timber company to harvest (most of the larger trees were getting on to 60 years old). For reference, we’re doing selective, not clear cutting…We lost a lot of high grade timber from a few big storms that went through, so we figured it was a good way to make some $$ as well as create conditions favorable to new growth…The state has programs to encourage landowners to plant back native species…

Once the timbering is done, I’m not really sure what to do with the property…My brother and I are joint owners, but he’s out in California and has relied on me to make these decisions…I’d like to find a way to get it to generate some income, but it has shortcomings…the cabin structure you see was originally built by my dad over 45 years ago…how it’s survived all these years remains a mystery, but it needs to come down…in addition the road is in pretty poor shape, but the timber company is going to repair that before they come in to start the logging…

I’ve started a list of things I think the property would be good for, but I’d like to get your thoughts…it’s about a 9 hour drive away, so not exactly the kind of place where I could easily zip up for the weekend…if it was I’d be there a lot more…


#2

Given the name of the property I would plant Blight resistant American Chestnut for every removed tree.
https://www.acf.org/me/seed-sales/


#3

The gentleman who was previously caretaking the property for us, 15 or 20 years ago, was a well known local arborist…This man truly had a passion for trees and as luck would have it, he was working on growing blight resistant American Chestnut on our property…Last time I was up there we found a small healthy stand of them in a relatively secluded spot…that was exciting.


#4

Looks like a nice piece of land. We have driven thru SE WV once, but obviously don’t know much about that area, other than it’s sparsely populated and remote.

@Hillbillyhort is in WV a bit further west than that, but he might could offer his opinion.


#5

A tradition worth keeping up I would say.


#6

Thanks @subdood_ky_z6b, and that’s exactly why I love it there…There have been a few changes, but the most part it’s still the same way it was 40 years ago…


#7

I wholeheartedly agree.


#8

That part of WV is wonderful. Beautiful property


#9

That looks like a cool place. How much do you use the property now? How many times a year are you there? How much of the land is currently open? Is there a stream, spring or pond on the property? I think all of those might impact how much it is worth to try to develop income from the property.

If there was enough open land already it might be worth trying to plant one main low maintenance crop that you could go up and harvest every year and try to sell in bulk to restaurants, etc. Or have someone else harvest for a percentage. Maybe black currants if it is cool enough in the summers or possibly something like elderberries that are very easy and you might be able to plant with some of the support you mentioned for planting natives. Both of those crops have been pretty deer resistant at my place, which I expect would be an important thing to consider there.

Or maybe a ground lease for someone who wanted to bring in a tiny house as a getaway. That way you keep the land, but get a little rent, plus another set of eyes on the property.

But truthfully, although it might seem like an untapped asset, tapping it might be more effort than it is worth. I expect you’ll make some reasonable money from the timber, but after that it might be much harder work.


#10

SE, right near Hinton which is the county seat for Summers county…poor old coal mining country…


#11

When I watch the local news out of Huntington, they sometimes show a webcam view at a campsite above Summersville Lake further north from your property. Very picturesque, along with the New River Gorge nearby.

Your property kind of reminds me of the terrain around here, although it’s probably more rugged there. I see all kinds of old logging roads (roads in the loosest sense!) around here, and marvel how steep and narrow some of them can be. I’d be afraid to take even our 4wd up (or down) some of them.

I think we have one on our property further up the hill behind us, but now it’s deep in the trees.


#12

Permaculture project.


#13

I don’t get up there nearly as much as I’d like to…Once a year if I’m luck right now…Max I’d say 15 to 20 open acres, we could get more but it would need to be cleared. We have a pond (needs cleaning out) but it’s the one my dad originally dug and there are 2 springs on the property…water comes right out of the mountain…

Low maintenance crop is a good suggestion, but I’d definitely need someone to harvest for me…The deer are terrible up there, way too many of them…

You last point about tapping it being more effort than it’s worth is the one I keep struggling with, and that may very well be the case…Whenvever my wife mentions something about selling, I just can’t imagine doing that, especially since it’s only about $350 in taxes a year…


#14

This was on my list…


#15

I recall a YouTube video, I believe from an orchard in Iowa, that stated a chestnut orchard is one of the most profitable per acre, with very little work once the trees are established.


#16

Are there any conservation easements there? I’m not sure of the details, but essentially you retain use of the land for your lifetime and are allowed to sell it, but the conservation easement limits the things that can be done with the property. You can’t develop or subdivide it, nor can any assigns, but I think taxes may be waived. No doubt varies from state to state. We have friends who have a small ranch on which there is a conservation easement. They raise cattle. They have an issue with their stock pond, which they stock with trout, which the osprey feed on - and they can’t do a thing about it. But they were allowed to build a new house and barn on it, set up irrigation, I think, and in general keep it as a working ranch.

But the real return for them would be to subdivide it and run! So they gave that up.


#17

Not my area of expertise by any measure but if you had any neighbors with sheep maybe some kind of silvopasturing based around sheep and black locust?



#18

I’m debating joining the chestnut foundation. I’m working on newspaper article on them. And furnished the KY chapter two locations of chestnut trees that I know of that are bearing currently.


#19

Very cool that you have this much land! Too bad you live that far away from it. I do hope that you make well with getting the timber off of it and can find another way to make money from this property as well :+1:


#20

That’s awesome, hopefully they can put those genes to good use. I’ve only ever seen American Chestnut bearing twice. Once on the west end of the GSMNP along a popular trail and another time on a high ridge in Southwest Virginia. Need to get back to that spot and see if the tree is still alive…