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.
The 124,000-acre Broken O Ranch, one of the most expansive and versatile agricultural operations in the Rocky Mountain West, has been purchased by American business entrepreneur Stan Kroenke. The Moore family has spent nearly 25 years assembling this massive land holding. Spread across Lewis & Clark, Cascade and Teton Counties along the Sun River near Augusta, Montana, the Broken O was carefully shaped and improved to create one of the most grand and significant agricultural enterprises in the United States.
— Sam Connolly, Kroenke Ranches
Kroenke, a respected land steward, also owns Cedar Creek Ranch and PV Ranch both located in Montana, and ranches in Wyoming, Arizona and British Columbia. Terms of the sale were not disclosed. Mike Swan of Bates Sanders Swan Land Company represented the Sellers and Joel Leadbetter of Hall and Hall represented the Buyer in this landmark transaction.
Situated along the eastern edge of the stunning Rocky Mountain Front – the Broken O is one of the West’s most grand and significant ranches. More than 20 miles of the Sun River course through the heart of the substantial Broken O Ranch offering abundant recreational and hunting amenities.
The Broken O currently irrigates in excess of 13,000 acres, the largest acreage of irrigated farm land in Montana. The Ranch runs 3,500 mother cows, 800 replacement heifers and 175 range bulls. It produces 25,000 tons of alfalfa hay and 700,000 bushels of small-grain crops annually. It also contains a 5,000 head commercial feedlot.
For more information on the Broken O Ranch, visit TheBrokenORanch.com.
Dating back to 1948, Prairie Wings Duck Club in Jefferson County, Arkansas is one of America’s best, private hunting clubs, offering, green-timber mallard duck hunting, along with impressive whitetail deer hunting.
Adjoining the Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area and other properties intensively managed for waterfowl and whitetail deer, Prairie Wings Duck Club consists of 1,650± total acres, including 1,130± acres of impounded, mature hardwood timber; 464± acres that are cultivated for rice and soybeans; and 56± acres including the lodge and equipment storage sites, levees, bayous, and roads.
The flooded timber offers six (6) beautiful shooting holes, which some of them have been the inspiration for a few paintings by nationally acclaimed wildlife artists. The timber is a mixed species oaks, which has been well managed over the previous century. There are five (5) wells and five (5) relifts for watering and dewatering the two large green-timber impoundments.
The cultivated acreage strategically rests around the perimeter of the impounded timber and offers sanctuary and feed for the wintering waterfowl. All of the cultivated acreage is managed in a rotation of rice and soybeans providing excellent habitat for resting and wintering waterfowl. The farmland acreage is 100% irrigated and all precision leveled for efficient water management. A professional farmer is in place and the property is farmed on a crop-share basis.
The charming Prairie Wings lodge rests on the banks of Fish Lake Ditch and is abundant and widespread over a single level intertwining structure that is as dated as its prominent history. The lodge is designed to accommodate large groups of shooting sportsmen in warm comfort and includes six (6) master suites, nine (9) guest bedrooms, a guide’s quarters, and abundant bathrooms. The kitchen and dining room are fully equipped to service all the culinary needs of the lodge. A huge deck with fire pit is adjacent to the lodge positioned on Fish Lake Ditch. The exterior features cypress of the local bottomlands. Equipment storage and dog kennels is located just away from the lodge.
This property has been commercially hunted for ducks since the mid-1990s. Records show an average success of over 2,500 harvested ducks per year.
Listed with Lile Real Estate, Inc., Prairie Wings Duck Club is available for $15 million. For more information, contact Gar Lile at (501) 374-3411 (office) or (501) 920-7015 (mobile).
H20. It’s the lifeblood of your land. No other feature rivals this resource for enhancing habitat, nurturing biodiversity, and bringing beauty (and value) to your property.
Stand in the middle of Montana’s Running Colter Ranch and perk up your ears. If you listen closely, you’ll hear the sweet summer melody of Western songbirds, the rude quacking of a duck, and maybe even the honk of an occasional Canadian goose. Listen more closely, and I promise that you can pick out the swishing sound of big bunches of native grasses catching the wind and bending in the breeze.
These are exactly the sorts of sounds one would expect to hear on a ranch in Montana, right? But on the Running Colter Ranch, they mean much more. They mean the plan is working. Just five short years ago, this ranch was a dried-up stretch of ranchland. Deep cracks in the dirt revealed rusty pipes. The wetlands that once existed had long since been filled in. Brown grass spread out as far as the eye could see — brown grass that is now lush, green, and full of wildlife.
The reason? The sound that is hardest to hear: the sound of running water.
It’s a prime example of revival, restoration, and dedication, and it all revolves around water. “Water plays that central role in the biodiversity of our resources, our private property, and our environment,” says Mike Sprague, founder of Montana-based Trout Headwaters, Inc. (THI).
“Water is the key to life” is Sprague’s motto, and he should know. Throughout his career he’s worked with water. Sprague founded THI in 1995 using state of the art technology and scientific practices to help landowners across the U.S. restore and protect the wetlands and water systems coursing through their properties.
And the results of his work — whether it be a current 100,000-acre project featuring three watershed systems in the Rocky Mountains or a 100-acre parcel on the East Coast — have been no less than inspiring.
Sprague has observed a compelling phenomenon that occurs once a landowner restores waters to their purest forms. As a result of this effort, every aspect of the land — from the economic value to the aesthetic elements and everything in between — is enhanced. Healthy, happy waters bring nature back in balance. They provide an alluring habitat for native birds and migratory waterfowl. All species of wildlife flourish, including pesky varmints.
Rejuvenating a watershed increases productivity for farming and ranching. It creates superior recreational opportunities and viewsheds. And it strengthens the relationship that owners have with their land. There’s also the future factor, leaving the land better off for future generations.
Consider the 700-acre functional farmlands of the Running Colter. Lands such as these, with a century of agriculture use, were impacted with human-caused issues revolving around farming, development, infrastructure, and mismanagement. This can include improper grazing techniques, pesticide use, and wetland disruption.
It wasn’t that the previous landowners purposely meant to do any harm; more than likely they were adhering to the ag procedures of their day. The ranch’s previous owners had no intention of causing longlasting harm to the land.
Examples of this on the Running Colter included filling in wetlands and diverting streams underground. These practices allowed for more agricultural water in the short term, but much less in the long run— to the point where the native landscape slowly dried up. Native plants were supplanted by noxious weeds. Wildlife sought more fertile forage. Last but not least, farming yields eventually diminished.
After decades of decay, the Running Colter Ranch was acquired by a private conservation fund in 2008. Sprague’s team at THI was put in charge of restoring the wetlands and stream systems.
“At first, it was difficult to imagine what the water here could become,” Sprague says. “The bulk was wetland more than 80 years ago. Now it was in pipes, and the wetland areas were filled. The land had become increasingly drier.”
Sprague’s team dug in, literally, and spent a year re-elevating groundwater to restore streams and shallow wetlands. Then they created a management plan that involved leaving much of the landscape to heal up naturally.
Five years later, the barren landscape is a thriving wetland habitat. “You almost can’t believe you’re standing on the same property,” Sprague says.
Sprague appreciates the resurgent ecosystems firsthand. Since revitalizing the ranch’s waters, he has fly-fished and hunted the Running Colter many times. “We’ve also reestablished valuable irrigation for farming and recreational activities,” he adds.
So what lessons can be drawn from the Running Colter Ranch restoration project? What are the implications for other landowners around the country?
According to Sprague, there are many. And they begin with a simple understanding, one that concerns the disconnect between our water needs and our water sources.
“For most of us, we tend to think of water in a very utilitarian way,” Sprague says. “After all, the vast majority of the planet is covered by water, but a very small percentage is useful to us.
Sprague explains that there is a perception that the water running through our land is all fine and dandy. In many cases, especially when landowners have bought properties once primarily used for agriculture, that’s not altogether accurate.
When a landowner acquires a property with this kind of history, he or she faces problems that involve the deterioration of watersheds, an extremely common yet unintentional byproduct of historical agricultural practices. When a watershed deteriorates, so do many other living things around it. Some of this damage can go unnoticed at first. After all, if there is no visible debris in a streambed or a drainpipe dumping toxic waste into a river, the damage can be hard to detect for the untrained eye.
It’s also difficult for the untrained eye to imagine the impact of better waters. Biodiversity allows countless elements to thrive. Even if water-rich landowners are uninterested in using this asset for economic purposes, such as farming or ranching, most still want to protect the potential economic, aesthetic, and recreational values. “It becomes a question of managing that small finite resource,”
But how does one go about assessing the damage and then fixing it? Although it sounds daunting, according to Sprague it doesn’t have to be. “Oftentimes the problems can be dealt with in a very cost-effective way,” he says. “Restoration can be done passively or actively, and both ways can have very successful outcomes.”
To identify the disturbances, THI completes an initial consultation at no cost to the landowner. Then they come up with a plan that allows landowners to put projects into phases and take various approaches given the issues identified.
Most improvements fall into one of three basic budget categories. The fastest (and most costly) is a full-on water reclamation project such as the one implemented at the Running Colter. Depending on the size and issues, this can include a year or more of hands-on work with equipment and personnel on the ground followed by extensive monitoring. A middle ground, involving a partial reclamation project, involves consultants mapping out a plan and then letting a landowner implement it.
The slowest but most cost-effective route is a holistic approach based on improving what is already in place as well as future monitoring. “A project can be as simple as marking off the disturbed area, and allowing nature to heal itself, which it does very well when left to do so,” Sprague says.
No matter the approach a landowner decides on to improve his or her waters, the end results are well worth the time, effort, and investment. A landowner now has developed an intimate knowledge and connection with his land, has increased the value and the recreational usage, and has left it better off than when he first came to own it, for future generations as well as neighbors downstream.
“Water is such a centerpiece of so many properties, and it’s all connected,” Sprague says. Then, a serious expression on his face, he adds an all-important closing comment. “It’s incumbent on each one who owns the banks of a stream to keep the water quality up to its purest form. That land and that water are going to be there long after we are gone, and we have the ability to pass that forward in better condition than we found it.”
Corinne Garcia freelances for Marie Claire and Country Living. Based in Bozeman, her speciality is penning stories about Big Sky Country.
Download the digital version of The Land Report’s Summer 2012 magazine.
Every day at 6:45 am, William S. Haines Jr. makes his daily rounds at Hog Wallow. Why? To check in on the 1,300 acres of sprawling cranberry bogs and reservoirs, which are expected to produce 300,000 100-pound barrels of cranberries this year.
Haines, 59, is a fourth-generation farmer who grew up on what is now a 14,000 acre farm that his great-grandfather started in 1890. As owner and CEO of Pine Island Cranberry Company, Haines oversees the largest cranberry operation in New Jersey and one of the top five in the country.
Much of Haines’ success comes from heeding the lessons of his elders, including those pertaining to the importance of water in any farming operation. When asked why cranberries thrive here, Haines’ answer is simple: “abundant, clean water and acidic soil.” Recalls Haines of advice from his father, “Before you make any decision, ask, ‘Where does the water come from and where do you want it to go?’”
Named New Jersey’s outstanding forest steward by the state Department of Environmental Protection for the management of his woodlands on the Wading and Oswego Rivers, Haines recognizes the interdependent relationship between the farm and the forest – one whose long-term health depends on regular thinning and controlled burns.
Admired by fellow cranberry farmers for his work ethic, Stephen Lee, president of Lee Brothers Inc., commented that Haines is “very intense, hands-on and knowledgeable about whatever he’s going to do. He learns about it and does a first class job.”
Considered to be one of the country’s best forest stewards and a leader in forest management, Haines has long been committed to the land, including helping to expand Burlington County’s Farmland and Open Space Preservation programs and to create a Parks Department, which has preserved over 1,000 acres and developed six parks in the county.
Read more here.
Photo Credit: Pine Island Cranberry Company, Inc.
This is the second in a series of posts by Field Reporter Joe Nick Patoski that looks at the wildfires currently raging out West.
With the Waldo Canyon and the House Park fires raging for weeks, the month of June goes down as the most destructive for wildfires since Colorado became a state.
It wasn’t always this way.
Early accounts of wildfires in the American West by European settlers were spotty, at best, mainly because the West is so big and there were so few settlers, at least at first.
When forests burned, there was very little anyone could to do in response to protect property but let the fire burn, which is precisely what Native American tribes did when a big burn ignited.
Fire-fighting techniques have improved considerably over time, especially in the past 25 years. But even with the development of fire-retardants, employment of aircraft, smarter strategies, and constantly better technology, wildfires persist. If anything, man appears to be losing ground to nature on flame front.
Fire is part of a forest’s life cycle, taking down dead and sickly timber, clearing out brush and understory, and scarifying seedlings that require intense heat in order to germinate. It works the same way on prairie grasslands and the plains. Without fire, the vegetation wouldn’t thrive.
Even severe fires caused by heavy fuel loads are normal cyclical occurrences; the big differences are how the cycles have become more frequent, and how more than a century of fire suppression as sound land management, a philosophy spurred largely by the establishment of cattle and other livestock operations, has created an unprecedented heavy fuel load.
It’s important to note that different types forests burn differently, depending on the dominant forest tree and elevation. A century can pass between severe wildfires in high elevation forests dominated by lodgepole pine, aspen, spruce, and Douglas fir. Lower elevation forests with piñon pine, and junipers tend to be drier which leads to more frequent fire events – every decade or two. This keeps forests open and less dense.
The West used to be emptier too. Construction of homes in and around forests has skyrocketed since the 1970s, creating a precarious wildlands-urban interface (WUI) as Colorado State researchers David M. Theobald and William Romme label it. As civilization encroaches, management of forests becomes considerably more difficult. And what provides bucolic scenery most of the time to those arboreal interlopers also provides all the necessary tinder to leave nothing but ashes if flames reach a domicile.
Nationwide, the WUI encompasses an area about 14% larger than the state of California, with an estimated 89% of that wildlands-urban interface privately-owned. That means it is private landowners who will most likely shoulder the burden of wildfire management and prevention strategies such as managed thinning of forest and prescribed burns. Federal and state government planning is limited to federally- and state-owned lands.
Still, sound management practices can only do so much. Increased human population, construction in the wildlife-urban interface, a build-up of tinder in the understory due to more than a century of fire suppression are mere enablers compared to a warming climate. Increased temperatures leading to earlier spring thaws and less snow melt appears to be the biggest driver behind the increase of severe wildfires.
The West was considerably wetter when wildfires in the American West first began to be studied. The climate has turned drier over the past century and a half. Add to that a perfect storm of more immediate weather conditions: the interior West is in extreme drought and in late June, a record-breaking heat wave settled over the southern and central Rocky Mountains accompanied by dry humidity and winds.
Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University. She is also the co-author of a study that appeared in the journal Ecosphere concluding the risk of wildfires in the American west will increase as a result of climate change.
“Climate change is shifting rainfall patterns around the world,” Hayhoe told the Living on Earth radio program. “We’re also seeing that climate change is increasing our average temperatures, which raises the risk of having those hot, dry conditions that we need for a wildfire to spread.”
Colorado is fortunate to have numerous experts at Colorado State University who are studying the past, present, and future of western wildfires.
“A great understanding has developed about historical fire stories in Colorado,” says Dan Binkley, Professor of Forest Ecology at Colorado State. “The first thing to emphasize is we have a grand variety of forests across the West, and the fire stories that go with the landscapes are very different for different types of forests.”
Depending on one’s location, property owners have tools to prepare and protect themselves and their property, says Binkley.
“For homeowners, the most effective options are to learn about ‘firewise’ treatments to reduce the flammability of the local area around a house; join with a community to develop a Community Wildlife Protection Plan; and work with the community and adjacent land managers, such as public land people, to reduce the most severe risks at landscape scales. “
Binkley recommends tapping into the Colorado State Forest Service for information on all the above options. The statewide forestry staff visits and works with Colorado landowners.
All well, and good, but reality has yet to catch up to the knowledge. Since 2002, the contracted fleet of airborne fire-fighting tankers that the US Forest Service depends on has declined from 44 to nine while there have been six deadly crashes, all of them involving aircraft more than 50 years old.
Similarly, the US Fire Protection Program Analysis system, which was launched in 2002 in response to a history of all-out fire suppression, has yet to be implemented, although the computerized program that would coordinate fire-fighting agencies and responders to assess and reduce risk and control costs, was supposed to be online in 2007.
The failure to efficiently coordinate agencies and responders mattered not a whit to Dr. Bonnie Warnock, chair of Natural Resource Management at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, who got a call at the school last year that her ranch was burning.
“My heart said no but my head said it was OK,” she said.
Dr. Warnock rushed to her place.
“It was very stressful. The whole back pasture was burned, the boundary fence was on the ground. What do I do? I had not planned at all. How do I deal with this financially and emotionally? We have to sell one-third of our cows. We don’t have enough feed. That’s a capital investment for us that we are having to sell off and we’ll have to buy more back,” Warnock said.
She knew too well the fire was part of the process.
“Historically, our landscape did evolve with fire. If you’re looking at it from a plant perspective, this is not a catastrophe. This is a natural occurrence for the semiarid ecosystem we live in. Typically, we have two or three wet years followed by a dry year during which lightning strikes cause wildfires. This process has maintained the grasslands and kept brush from encroaching.”
That is, until the pioneers arrived and established permanent communities. “When early European settlement of this region began in the late 1800s, there was a lack of understanding of this process and land was overstocked and overgrazed,” Dr. Warnock said. “Drought was something the settlers weren’t experienced with. The overstocking and overgrazing removed the grass and fires disappeared from the Trans-Pecos.”
Range science changed that practice. “Since the science of range management developed in the 1950s, our ranchers have done a good job,” Dr. Warnock pointed out, while adding the caveat that even sound practices can do only so much.
“Through this most recent wet period, they haven’t been overgrazing and overstocking, which has benefitted the ecosystem. But over the past three years, we’ve grown a huge amount of fuel in the Trans-Pecos, so the first fire in 100-150 years since the region had been settled was extremely large. It was so big we weren’t prepared to deal with it. This is unprecedented.”
As critical as the drought and wildfires have been, the next few months afterwards were even more critical. “If we get rain in the next month or so, the country will come back and look better. If it doesn’t rain we will lose perennial grasses and see an increase of desertification,” Warnock said.
This awareness has led to the formation of a non-profit association in Far West Texas that uses prescribed fire as a management tool to reduce fuel loads. “Going forward, this is something we need if we are going to have green grass,” Dr. Warnock says, acknowledging a perception issue with prescribed burning from city and town dwellers and the new breed residing in the wildland-urban interface.”
“These people are at the highest risk if a prescribed burn gets away and at the greatest risk from wildfire. Most of these people come from cities and are not supportive of prescribed fire. That makes it difficult to employ this tool,” Dr. Warnock says. “There is a lot of support for prescribed fires by ranchers. We need to educate small landowners living on the edge of towns.”
“We need to work on finding mechanisms to reduce accidents. How do you keep people from welding or throwing out a cigarette when there’s 45 mile per hour winds and 2 percent humidity? “
Like the rest of us, even though she knows what she knows, Dr. Warnock has no interest in seeing it all happen again.
Read part one of this series here.
Photo Credit: Don Savage Photography
The Environmental Protection Agency dropped a lawsuit against Range Resources alleging that the company’s natural-gas drilling activities had contaminated groundwater west of Fort Worth. Range appealed the EPA’s findings citing similar levels of contamination known to have existed prior to drilling. The decision by the EPA to drop the suit is the third time in recent months that the agency has failed to link the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing to groundwater contamination. The EPA’s testing and methods have also been questioned in high-profile cases in Pennsylvania and Wyoming.
Read more here.
Click here to download a copy of the April 2012 newsletter.
May 1, 2012 by Land Report Editors
Filed under Agriculture, Arizona, California, Cattle, Conservation, Developers, Equities, Farming, Federal Policy, Field Reporters, Great Lakes, Land Report Top 10, Massachusetts, Newsletter, Northeast, Pacific, Public Land, Recreation, Residential Property, Southwest, Timber, Water, West, Wisconsin
Many items to consider from our May newsletter, but let’s stick to page one material. The Land Report Top Ten has a brand-new look with Montana’s Broken O Ranch now crowning the list. The 124,000-acre Bates Sanders Swan listing features more than 20 miles of the Sun River, carries 3,500 mother cows, and produces about 25,000 tons of alfalfa hay and 700,000 bushels of small grain crops annually. At $132.5 million, it’s not a ranch. It’s a hedge fund, one built on a rock-solid agricultural asset.
Two properties have joined the Top Ten: Hawaii’s Dillingham Ranch, our new No. 5 at $65 million, which is listed by Zackary Wright with Christie’s; and Swain’s Neck on Nantucket Island, the new No. 7 at $59 million, courtesy of Gary Winn at Maury People Sotheby’s International Realty. There has been a $5 million reduction on No. 4 California’s Rancho Dos Pueblos, which Kerry Mormann & Associates now has listed for $79 million.
For more up to the minute reports on listings, auctions, sales, and breaking news pertaining to land and landowners, be sure to follow The Magazine of the American Landowner on Facebook and Twitter. The Land Report is now on Pinterest.
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The largest supplier of imported cattle to the U.S. is enduring cataclysmic drought conditions. And they are only expected to intensify in 2012, according to Mexico’s Agriculture Ministry. Last year, Mexico exported 1.23 million head of cattle to the U.S. An estimated 60,000 head of livestock have already been reported dead in 2012. Not all producers register losses; actual numbers are expected to be higher. The lack of rainfall is also decimating Mexican farmers.
Read more here.