I just came across this interesting article in Western Art and Architecture magazine about Ted Turner, his love of Western Art, and how that passion for art has guided some of his land acquisitions and stewardship efforts.  Even though I’ve read every book that I know of on Ted Turner, this article shed some new light on the roots of his love for Western landscapes.

Article: Ethos by Todd Wilkinson

Incidentally, the article was written by Todd Wilkinson, the author of Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet.  I just finished Last Stand and will be posting a review of it in the next week or so.

Ranches and Private Equity

Be sure to check out this interesting article in today’s Wall Street Journal about several private equity funds that are purchasing large western ranches, improving their fisheries and wildlife habitat, and reselling them at a profit:

Ranch Fixer-Upper Flips

I’ve had the opportunity to work with several of these groups over the past few years, and I personally admire the way they are able to bring together governmental, non-profit, and traditional business groups to simultaneously improve the natural landscape AND turn a profit for investors.

Over the weekend, I had showings on both of my ranch listings near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado – Phantom Lake Ranch and the Jensen Ranch.  Given the huge amount of April snowfall, both ranches are just now reaching their full summer greenness.  On both properties, the water was flowing and flowers were blooming, making it a perfect day to spend outdoors, with great clients, in the Colorado mountains.  Enjoy these photos from the day:

Phantom Lake Ranch

image

image

Jensen Ranch

image

image

image

image

Top 3 Conservation Updates

Head over to the Mirr Ranch Group Blog to read my most recent blog post:   

This Spring’s Top 3 Colorado Land Conservation Updates

And speaking of conservation, the photo above is from my most recent trip to the Jensen Ranch, a unique 174-acre Forest Service inholding that has been conserved by Northern Colorado’s Legacy Land Trust.

This past Memorial Day weekend, my wife and I headed up to Wheatland, Wyoming for a client’s annual spring calf branding.  We worked our way through around 250 calves – roping them, wrestling them to the ground, then vaccinating, branding, and (if necessary) castrating them.

It was tough, dirty work, but there’s something very special and historically noteworthy about participating in spring branding in the Rocky Mountain West.  I love to think that (minus the vaccines and the propane flame for the branding iron), the exact same scene was playing out over 150 years ago: neighboring landowners coming together to rope and brand, then enjoy a big meal together after the hard work is complete.

Enjoy these photos from a great day:

image

image

imageimage

Tax Implications of Conservation Easements

Head over to the Mirr Ranch Group blog to read my most recent blog post: The Fiscal Cliff Deal and its Effect on Conservation Properties.  In it, I give a brief overview of how the overhyped “fiscal cliff” deal and its resulting legislation will affect federal income tax deductions for conservation easements.

When reading that blog posting, be sure to notice the photo of the massive moose (I’ve reposed it here).  That photo was taken on the Jensen Ranch, one of the ranches I represent that has been permanently protected by a conservation easement.

It’s no secret that Colorado’s South Park basin is one of the premier trout fishing destinations in the United States. A devoted fisherman could spend years exploring the major rivers, creeks and reservoirs, and still only scratch the surface of fishing possibilities in the valley.

When most people think of fishing in South Park, a long list of well-known and extremely productive fisheries come to mind: The South and Middle Forks of the South Platte, Tarryall, Jefferson, and Michigan Creeks, and the Antero and Spinney Reservoirs. For the most part, these fisheries are easily accessible from the valley’s major highways, and, even with the most basic fishing skills, guarantee at least a few decent-sized browns and rainbows. However, easy access plus hungry fish usually equals crowds.

image

While I’ve never encountered crowds in South Park to rival the mobs of fishermen that descend on Rocky Mountain National Park during the summer months, it is rare to have one of the major fisheries all to yourself. However, if you’re willing to step off the beaten path and put in a little work, there are numerous opportunities to find both hungry fish and solitude.

One of my favorite hidden gems is upper Trout Creek, located in Pike National Forest, at the base of southeast ridge of Mount Silverheels. I had the good fortune to discover this creek because of my work listing and marketing Red Hill Ranch, a 2,080-acre property that borders the National Forest and upper Trout Creek. As you can see in the photos, the scenery is unbelievable – a meandering creek with abundant willows that backs up to the aspen-covered base of a 13,829-foot mountain. There is a healthy beaver population living in upper Trout Creek, and the numerous beaver dams have created deep pools that allow the trout to survive the cold winters. The most exciting aspect of upper Trout Creek is that it supports Greenback Cutthroat trout, a rare and highly sought-after species.

image

For the general public, there’s no easy way to access upper Trout Creek, unless you have a very high-clearance and super-durable truck. And in my experience, a big truck does not guarantee an easy ride. The forest service road leading to the area is fraught with holes the size of Volkswagens… no exaggeration! But for the devoted fisherman, it is well worth the time and effort to drive as far as you can up the road and hike in the rest of the way.

The current and future owners of Red Hill Ranch, however, have extremely easy access to this relatively unknown fishing spot. From the northwest corner of the ranch, the landowner can simply unlock the gate, walk a few hundred yards and begin reeling in the Greenbacks. Because there are no well-maintained roads to upper Trout Creek, whoever purchases Red Hill Ranch gets the best of both worlds – private use of the deeded acreage for hunting and ranching, and fairly exclusive use of the National Forest for fishing, hiking and horseback riding.

image

Feel free to get in touch if you’d like more information on upper Trout Creek, Red Hill Ranch, or both. It won’t be long until the snow has melted, and we are back in prime fishing season!

10_1_11 025 LR

(Thanks to Gary Nichols for the use of a few of his excellent Trout Creek photos)

Public vs Private Lands

I was recently paging through the Atlas of the New West, an interesting book published by The Center of the American West.  It’s an older book, published in 1997, yet it still has a great deal of relevant information regarding current issues affecting life in the Rocky Mountains.

This particular illustration caught my eye – a graphical representation of the percent of public lands in each state.  While I’ve always known that the Rocky Mountain states have vastly more public lands than their eastern counterparts, I’ve never seen it laid out in this particular manner.  Muy interesante!

private public

source: Atlas of the New West, page 58.

Southern Colorado Conservation Awards

In early October, I made my way down to Colorado Springs for the third annual Southern Colorado Conservation Awards, hosted by the great folks at Palmer Land Trust.  Since 1977, the Palmer Land Trust has conserved over 70,000 acres of ranch land and wild places, making them the largest local, private land trust in the United States.

The evening consisted of great conversation with individuals working in the Colorado conservation community, followed by an excellent dinner prepared with local food, and, most importantly, the awards ceremony.  As part of the awards ceremony, the award winners were profiled in short films that had been produced by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Ginger Kathrens.

Rather than try to explain all the great work that this year’s winners have done, I’ll let you check out the four videos below.  Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to Palmer Land Trust for a great evening!

Conservation Properties & Conservation Easements

Check out my most recent posting on the Mirr Ranch Group blog – Case Study: Conservation Properties.  In it, I give a brief overview of how conservation easements can be used to enhance a ranch’s conservation, agriculture, and development characteristics.  I also discuss one of our listings, The Preserve, that has successfully conserved a portion of the ranch, while also retaining and improving its agricultural and development potential.