Talk about a match made in heaven ….
On a hunting trip to Wyoming, Stuart Phillips first caught wind of the 14,000-acre Moriah Ranch. A generic description of the Moriah would list it in the rolling foothills of the Laramie Mountains. A more accurate description would single out its location in Area 7, perhaps the best trophy elk unit in the state. Herds of 300-plus elk roam the ranch with many 350- to 400-class bulls on record. The avid outdoorsman had to see it for himself.
“It was mid-November, and there was a dusting of snow. I took a few steps and saw a mountain lion track,” he says. “That’s what sealed the deal.” Soon after buying the Moriah, his wife, Robin, an accomplished watercolorist, turned the ranch bunkhouse into a studio.
Beginning in 2003, the couple spent three to four months a year at the ranch, enjoying the recreational opportunities with their two sons. It was a magical place, one they believed would stay in the family.
But, according to Phillips, God had a different plan.
The couple was actively involved World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization founded in 1950 that focuses on bettering the lives of children around the world. Both Stuart and Robin had read The Hole in Our Gospel by World Vision CEO Rich Stearns. When Stuart picked up the book a second time during some quiet time on the ranch, something came over him.
“God asked me, ‘What possession do you value most?’” he recalls. “The ranch was the obvious answer. He also asked me, ‘Given the resources you have, how does that compare to the hunger in the world?’”
After a heartfelt conversation with Robin, the couple decided that their next step would be to sell their beloved ranch.
The Phillipses chose Dave and Hunter Harrigan of Harrigan Land Company as their broker. Based on years of experience hunting and fishing, the Harrigans listed the Moriah at $11.7 million. “This was the recession, and right away we got a very strong offer from a qualified buyer,” Hunter says. “But Stuart was not in a hurry. He wanted to make the right choice.”
That’s when the State of Wyoming came calling. Back in 1890, Washington deeded federal lands to the 44th state to be used to generate funds for public schools and other institutions. To date, Wyoming retains 3.5 million surface acres and 3.9 million mineral acres in this trust.
After analyzing a dozen different ranches, the Moriah was deemed a perfect fit. “We knew the public wanted greater access to hunting and fishing,” says Ryan Lance, Director of the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments. “But more importantly, we looked at revenue-generating opportunities such as grazing, the ability to lease for wind development, and opportunities for agricultural growth.” A deal was struck.
Today, the public now hunts and fishes on the ranch, the state has additional income from a grazing lease, and students from the University of Wyoming are studying the Moriah’s rich Native American heritage.
To Stuart and Robin Phillips, this was exactly what God had in mind. How many school kids are better off because of their sacrifice? How many outdoorsmen can now experience their beloved ranch? And what of the poverty that can been alleviated by their gifts to World Vision and other charities?
“When it first happened, it felt like a tragedy, but in time it felt like a love story,” Stuart says. “God was asking us to give up something great for something greater. To God be the glory.”
Based in Bozeman, Montana, Corinne Garcia freelances for Marie Claire and Country Living.
Download your digital version of the Spring 2013 edition of The Land Report.
On the eastern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, along the banks of the Devils River, is an area that was once known for the imminent danger this country posed to soldiers and civilians alike. During the frontier days of the Lone Star State, the Comanche made sport of attacking those trekking across the Big Bend from San Antonio to El Paso. Although the U.S. Army established Fort Hudson in 1857, these attacks continued well beyond the close of the Civil War.
Today, this territory is renowned for its pristine waters. The Devils River is the cleanest river in Texas. It also forms a crucial part of the Rio Grande drainage basin, and the Texas Nature Conservancy made it a goal to keep it this way.
“We’ve been working on the Devils River for 20 years,” says Jeff Francell, Director of Land Protection for the Texas Nature Conservancy. “We bought our first preserve in the early 1990s, and since that time we have protected as much of this area as possible from fragmentation and incompatible land use.”
The Baker Ranch and Prosser Ranch sat side by side, making up a total of some 40,000 acres, including six miles of Devils River frontage. The Texas Nature Conservancy acquired both in order to protect the river as well as Fern Cave, among the largest caves in Texas and home to one of the world’s largest Mexican free-tailed bat populations. Its challenge was to find buyers for both ranches who would be willing to join with the Conservancy in protecting this priceless treasure. Fortunately, a landowner who shared the organization’s conservation focus came along and swooped up both.
Jeff Boswell’s client was looking for a place where he could pursue his love for nature photography, and he had his heart set on West Texas. “At first we looked at a smaller place, but he fell in love with the Devils River, and he knew he wanted to protect it,” says Boswell, a Houston-based broker with Republic Ranches.
“One hurdle we faced was that most people thought a conservation easement was already in place,” says Kevin Meier of duPerier Texas Land Man, who represented the Texas Nature Conservancy on these properties for a year and a half.
“You had to explain to prospective buyers that the conservation easement was able to be written and negotiated to meet the criteria that The Nature Conservancy has to follow to meet their mission,” Meier adds.
Fortunately, that mission just happened to be one that Boswell’s client felt equally passionate about.
“We needed to make sure a conservation easement put buffers along the river’s edge barring development. We also needed to put no-development areas around the cave, springs, and river frontage,” Francell says.
The buyer agreed to protect the land conservatively, taking only two divisions per property, signing off on a limited number of new homesites, and creating no-development zones within 750 feet of protected areas.
“My client knows that he has a valuable asset on his hands, and protecting the Devils River will protect his asset,” Boswell says.
It was a classic win-win all the way around.
“It couldn’t have been a better buyer as far as conservation goes,” Meier says. “It was a match made in heaven.”
Based in Bozeman, Montana, Corinne Garcia freelances for Marie Claire and Country Living.
Download your digital version of the Spring 2013 edition of The Land Report.
It’s amazing – the yarns that can be shared about certain tracts of real property. Our April Newsletter takes a closer at several standout stories, including one that I am quite confident is destined to end up before the Supreme Court in a year or two. Why? The two states involved have been disputing their boundary for only the last 195 years.
Also in our April Newsletter you’ll find the story of an Oregon Senator who is considering a shift in federal management of certain timberlands. Meanwhile the Texas Legislature is currently embroiled in how best to combat the drought that has plagued much of the Lone Star State.
Last but not least, an uptick in the housing market has brought renewed activity to North American forests. Learn more as one of America’s largest landowners gears up for increased lumber sales.
Page through each issue of The Land Report in 2012, and three trends stand out:
1) Legacy properties continue to command a premium. Witness Larry Ellison’s mega-million-dollar purchase of the island of Lanai.
2) The market continues to crave income-producing properties, especially productive farmland.
3) America’s leading landowners view stewardship as a critical element of their trust. Witness Louis Moore Bacon’s remarkable conservation gift, which led to the creation of the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area.
One transaction encompassed all three of these elements: the sale of Montana’s historic Broken O Ranch. The history of the Broken O predates statehood. Its legacy is peerless. And its capacity to produce cattle and prodigious amounts of grain is matchless. When these 124,000 acres changed hands in November, one passionate, innovative business- man assumed an imposing mantle that had been meticulously crafted by a peer from an earlier era. For these and so many other reasons, the Magazine of the American Landowner is proud to designate the sale of the Broken O as the 2012 Deal of the Year.
Located along a 20-mile stretch of the Sun River, the roots of the Broken O reach deep — to the days of the Montana Territory. Its current incarnation was masterminded by Bill Moore, founder of the country’s largest privately owned paint company, Kelly-Moore. What began in the 1980s with Moore’s acquisition of a single ranch property along the Sun River evolved into what Forbes described as “one of the largest agricultural operations in the Rocky Mountain West.”
The Broken O’s new owner — Stan Kroenke — is no stranger to the land either. Kroenke ranked No. 10 on the 2012 Land Report 100; among his other ranch holdings is the largest contiguous ranch in the Rocky Mountains, the 540,000-acre Q Creek Ranch.
“Stan looks for quality,” says Kroenke’s broker, Joel Leadbetter of Hall and Hall. “The Broken O is so diversified with agricultural and recreational opportunities, and it’s such a large continuous landscape. That’s rare these days. The Broken O also complements and enhances the attributes of Stan’s other ranches and their operations.”
The rich and alluring history of the Broken O Ranch dates back to the 1800s, a time when cattlemen of the Lonesome Dove era ventured west to tame vast sprawling landscapes. One of those intrepid hopefuls was Daniel Flowerree, a Missourian who made his fortune in Montana’s gold fields. After settling in the Sun River Valley, his Flowerree and Lowry Cattle Company boomed, running as many as 40,000 head. Then a series of brutal winters took a bitter toll.
Shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, Flowerree’s ranch was acquired by the Teton Land Company. In the decades that followed, the operation eventually grew into one of the largest cattle operations in the West. In 1945, John Hamilton of Hamilton Beach appliances purchased it.
Bill and Desiree Moore bought the Hamilton Ranch in 1988. One of Moore’s next acquisitions was a neighboring tract, the Freeman Ranch. He would forge a deep, long-lasting bond with the family. Dan Freeman became a close friend and Bill’s right-hand man.
Over the ensuing two-decade span, Bill Moore and Dan Freeman worked in concert, assembling more than 20 blocks of land and building the enormously successful ranching and agricultural enterprise that is in place today.
“As his ranch manager for more than 20 years, Dan brought Bill’s dreams and his passions to fruition. It was a rare combination,” says Mike Swan, the seller’s broker. Swan, who was affiliated with the leading firm of Bates Sanders Swan Land Company throughout the marketing and sale of the Broken O, announced the formation of Swan Land Company in February 2013.
The Broken O is its own hedge fund,” Swan says. “Production is at such a massive scale that any one of the individual entities could make a tremendous agricultural operation independently.”
In addition, the Broken O features a matchless recreational component. Twenty miles of Sun River create an immense resource not only for fish but also for waterfowl, upland birds, mule deer, and elk. Thanks to the Sun River and other historic rights that date back more than a century, the Broken O is the largest private water rights owner in the State of Montana.
The ranch also enjoys close proximity to “the Bob.” At more than 1.5 million acres, the renowned Bob Marshall Wilderness is one of the largest wilderness areas in the Lower 48.
Along with building an agricultural empire, Moore also built a reputation as a steward of the land. He improved the ranch’s extensive pastures by planting native grasses. Moore placed three conservation easements on approximately 9,700 acres along the Sun River corridor. The Moores eventually became a mainstay of the community, employing a large number of locals, funding a community center in nearby Augusta, and donating to local schools and charities.
Kroenke is also no stranger to land stewardship. “Stan bought his first ranch in 1997, and balance has always been important to him,” Leadbetter says. “He looks at everything: the business, ecosystem, fishery, wildlife, and landscape. He always strives to be a very good steward while running sustainable ag operations.”
A deal of this size requires a tremendous amount of preparation. Swan spent months working with Freeman and the seller’s legal team to prepare volumes of due diligence material, including inventory lists, equipment and cattle documentation, background information on 27 houses, soil reports, land title commitments in three counties, information about water rights, state and federal land leases, grazing permits, gravel permits, DEQ permits, conservation easements, and hunting leases, to name a few.
“The preparation was instrumental to the successful transaction,” Swan says. “Our goal was to package the ranch to the point that when the buyer came through the door, everything they needed to know about the Broken O was at their fingertips.”
And interested buyers did come knocking, including private investors and investment funds as well as corporate entities.
As luck would have it, Leadbetter and Swan are both based out of Bozeman; the two know each other quite well. “We both grew up on ranches in Southwest Montana and have ag backgrounds,” Swan says. “We were working with a buyer and a team that understood the materials we provided and spoke the same language. That was paramount to the transaction.”
Of equal importance was that Leadbetter’s client instantly recognized the sterling qualities of the Broken O. “Stan looked it over, and he knew he wanted it,” Leadbetter says. “He’s that kind of guy — very bright — and wants to continue that legacy of innovative agriculture and enjoy the wildlife and fishing and all that the Broken O has to offer.”
An especially rewarding aspect only became apparent after the closing. The central character was not present, but his legacy continues. “It is a blessing we were able to sell the ranch to an individual of Stan Kroenke’s commitment to agriculture and land stewardship. My sense is that this transition will not only see a continued commitment to the current agricultural operation that William Moore established, but a continual enhancement and improvement of the ranch overall. I’m sure if Bill Moore were alive today, he would be pleased.” Swan says.
Enjoy the entire issue HERE.
Spring is off to a strong start, and this month’s Newsletter has the data to prove it. I spoke with Scott Shuman at Hall and Hall Auctions about the $4 million sale of more than 2,000 acres just outside of Dallas on March 7. His words to me? “If anyone needs any proof that there’s a ton of money sitting on the sidelines looking for a solid investment opportunity, this sale proves it.” Turn to page 3 for more on the TRBP Ranch auction, which was offered by Hall and Hall Auctions in conjunction with Hortenstine Ranch Company.
There is a strong emphasis on federal policy in our March Newsletter. In addition to an update on last year’s record crop insurance payouts, which now total a staggering $15 billion, landowners may want to take a closer look at possible grants currently available from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
This Brit is a natural in all respects.
More than one pointer aficionado has told me, “I’m a pointer man forever, but the best all-around shooting dog I ever saw was an English setter.”
This breed most likely developed from various land spaniels common in Europe in the late 14th century. Some historians credit the crossbreeding of the Spanish pointer, the water spaniel, and the springer spaniel as the source. Regardless, setters came by their name honestly, crouching on their bellies or “setting” as soon as they located game. Gradually, as firearms replaced the net as the bird hunter’s tool of choice, selective breeding raised the setter’s crouch to the rigid stance we now call a point.
In 1825, an Englishmen named Edward Laverack established a line-breeding program that produced a tall, big-boned, heavy-headed, well-feathered setter type favored in the show ring. Half a century later, R.L. Purcell Llewellin bred a pair of Laverack dogs to smaller setters from northern England.
It was these dogs – the lighter, more athletic decedents of Llewellin’s – that form the foundation of the modern field setter. The modern English setter has all the class of the best pointers, and its beauty is unsurpassed. Although the setter is most associated with bobwhite quail, those bred from close-working lines are also popular with woodcock and grouse hunters. True to their spaniel heritage, most well-bred setter pups are natural retrievers.
- Start your pup play-fetching by 8-10 weeks of age.
- Make your setter a member of the family.
- Rush or pressure your pup. Setters mature more slowly than pointers.
- Use harsh training methods. Setters tend to be sensitive.
Download the digital version of The Land Report’s Winter 2012 magazine.
Getting Asia’s largest beef importer to ease restrictions on American cattle. In 2003, the Land of the Rising Sun closed the door on all U.S. beef following the discovery of a single instance of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Washington State. It took a decade but the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has relented and is allowing more U.S. beef to be exported to Japan.
Our February newsletter features more details on this crucial news that will positively impact landowners, cattlemen, and beef companies nationwide. Also available is a link to the Agreement itself.
On Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 11:00 am central, Lazy H&B Ranch in southwest Texas will be sold at an onsite auction at the property’s location. The opening bid is $1,900,000.
Comprised of 4,447.13 acres, Lazy H&B Ranch is located in the northeastern portion of Val Verde County, which is approximately 32 miles north of Del Rio, Texas along highway 277. Offering native pastureland, rocky hills, bluffs and creeks, the entire property is fenced for game management. Additionally, there is approximately 1,000 to 1,200 AC, which is separately fenced and stocked with exotic wildlife, including Oryx, Axix, Black Buck and Audad.
- 3,200 SF metal hunting lodge
- 2,400 SF metal barn with a covered hangar
- Small metal building/animal cleaning area
- Approximately 10 RV hook ups
- 33′ W x 2,000′ L asphalt runway
- Camp house w/ loft
- 4 Water wells
The auction will also include the sale of personal property items, including:
- Caterpillar 416B Backhoe
- John Deer 450G Crawler Dozer
- Kawasaki 2510 4×4 Mule ATV
- Cequest Horse Trailer
Inspection for this property is scheduled for Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 11:00am central.
K. Toney TX Auction License #11818
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.
On Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 10:00 am eastern, the complete estate of Dr. J.H. Harrison will be sold at an onsite auction to be held at 3700 Baldee Road, Bartow, Georgia.
- Well Rounded Row Crop Operation
- Irrigated Cropland
- Timberland – Timber Cruise Available
- Grain Facility with 175,000 Bushel Storage
- Cattle Feed Lot
- 3 Homes, Office & Shop Buildings
- Paved Road Frontage
- Excellent Location
- Excellent Row Cropland
- Paved Road Frontage
- Plantation Pines
- Excellent Deer & Turkey Hunting
- Good Soils – Soil Analysis Available
- Great Homesites
- Excellent Timber Investment – Timber Cruise Available
- Abundant Deer & Turkey
- Road Frontage on Smith Creek Road, Shepard Road & Pollett Road
- Excellent Recreational Tract
- Ohoopee River Frontage
- Great Hunting Deer and Turkey
- 4.5 Miles from Cobbtown, GA
For more information, contact Bill Dunn with Rowell Auctions, Inc. at (800) 323-8388 or visit www.RowellAuctions.com.
Also selling late model John Deere equipment on Saturday, February 2nd, 2013 at 10:00 am eastern in cooperation with Weeks Farm Machinery Auction, Inc. For a complete inventory list, visit www.WeeksFarmMachinery.com.
Rowell Auctions, Inc. – A MarkNet Alliance Member