January 15, 2013 by Land Report Editors
Filed under Agriculture, Auctions, Cattle, Farming, Federal Policy, Georgia, Minerals, New Mexico, Newsletter, Oklahoma, Public Land, Recreation, Residential Property, South, Southwest, Texas
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announces his plan to leave Washington and return home to Colorado. The Supreme Court agrees to hear a dispute between Texas and Oklahoma over water rights. And the State of Texas, on a completely different matter, asks the Nation’s highest court to intervene in yet another water fight, one that involves Texas and another neighbor, New Mexico.
So much for a slow start to 2013. Our January newsletter features these news items and as well as others, including Land Report 100er Louis Bacon’s timeless gift to establish the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area in Southern Colorado.
The Magazine of the American Landowner presents the first in a series by Field Reporter Joe Nick Patoski as he takes a closer look at the wildfires raging out West.
The American West is on fire again, with wildfires breaking out across the Gila Wilderness in southwest New Mexico, around Ruidoso in southeastern New Mexico, and throughout Colorado. The Gila fire now ranks as the worst in New Mexico’s recorded history. Colorado’s High Park fire (pictured above) west of Fort Collins has destroyed more homes in state history. And all that was before summer even officially started.
Most western states have been experiencing drier-than-normal range conditions, and many regions are officially in drought. Conditions have been ripe for a major outbreak quite awhile. Maybe it’s an old writer’s faded memory, but it seems like massive wildfires used to happen every three or four years. Lately, it’s pretty much an annual occurrence, a seasonal rite, if you will.
Last year, Texas burned. Four million acres were scorched and it took 16,000 emergency responders from all 50 states and Puerto Rico to tamp it down. Wildfires near Fort Davis in Far West Texas and around Bastrop in Central Texas were the two worst in state history.
Other states will have their turn soon enough. What’s going on here?
Is this normal or an aberration? Where do wildfires fit into the big picture, beyond the considerable destruction and property damage in their wake? Who’s paying to fight the fires and to mitigate property damage? The largest mountain pine-beetle epidemic in recorded history, which has ravaged western forests with 3.3 million acres of ponderosa, piñon, whitebark, lodgepole, and eight other pine species destroyed in Colorado alone, has created ideal conditions for fire. The pine beetle’s success is tied to rising temperature, suggesting climate change is another enabling factor for increased wildfire. Forest management practices are being scrutinized, as is the impact of humans. Before European pioneers arrived to establish permanent settlements, the natives let fires burn. Are we tilting against windmills trying to stop them? Most important, what can communities and individuals do to protect their land and to lower the risk?
We can argue about what it all means until we’re gone, but the good news is there are answers to these questions. Accumulated data, good science, history, facts, truths, and verities all tell stories worth telling that inform and expand our knowledge about western wildfires.
Over the next few weeks, while the western forests and rangeland burns, we’ll visit with some folks whose perspectives on fire, ecosystems, biology, prescribed burns, economics, erosion, range science, meteorology, and, of course, land ownership have the potential to inform and enlighten if we’re willing to read, listen, and ponder. That won’t stop the fires from breaking out, but it can certainly make our responses smarter.
Read part two of this series here.
A lot to discuss in our June newsletter, in particular, the late-breaking news about the pending sale of the Hawaiian island of Lanai by David Murdock to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. To give you an idea of the importance of this transaction, none other than Hawaii’s Governor, Neil Abercrombie, broke the news to the general public. No word on the final sale price. According to published reports, however, Murdock had been asking between $500 and $600 million for the 141-square-mile island.
An Albuquerque businessman, Mechenbier owns 142,000 acres spread across several New Mexico counties, including farmland and four adjoining cattle ranches. And he wants the land to stay in the family as long as possible. A large portion of the acreage lies in a trust that prevents that land from being mortgaged.
In 1824, the Mexican government granted former Spanish Army Captain Pablo Montoya more than 600,000 acres outside of present-day Tucumcari, New Mexico. In 1947, after a slew of colorful owners, the land was divided into six parcels. William Lane II eventually purchased the largest piece in 1970. The BellRanch, named for the bell-shaped butte on the property, is now owned by Bill Lane’s children, who have co-listed it with Mason & Morse Ranch Company and Orvis/Cushman & Wakefield for $100 million.
A Lubbock oilman, Boyd acquired the 137,372-acre Frying Pan Ranch in 1996 and the 106,065-acre LE Ranch in 1998. The two cattle ranches are among the most historic in the West Texas/Southeast New Mexico region and date back to the late 19th century.
Beginning in 1920, Hal Bogle established himself in the ranching community by acquiring land in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, and Tennessee. When he died in 1973, he left almost 192,000 acres of ranchland in New Mexico to his son William Clarence and to William’s five children.
More than a century after Howard Kohn founded what would become the T4 Cattle Co. in New Mexico, family members remain loyal to its cattle ranching heritage. Kohn’s daughter Yetta and her family, the Bidegains, now own the approximately 200,000-acre ranch. Her son Phillip manages the property.
This Dallas banker teamed up with Ronald Perelman to sell Golden State Bancorp to Citigroup for $5.8 billion in 2002. Ford also owns the historic Diamond A Ranch in New Mexico and Diamond A Racing in Kentucky, which produced Pleasantly Perfect, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2003 and the Dubai World Cup in 2004.
Funk’s Express Ranches run one of the largest seed stock operations in the country. The ranches—Express Ranches in Yukon, Oklahoma; Express Atmore Ranch in Ute Park, New Mexico; and
the Express UU Bar Ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico—also develop, test, and export genetics, as well as conduct an artificial insemination and embryo transfer program.