Riders check cattle by horseback on the G5 Home Ranch south of Yampa. The Routt County Board of Commissioners approved the expenditure of $825,000 in dedicated property taxes to help conserve the family ranch.

Photo courtesy Helena Silva

Riders check cattle by horseback on the G5 Home Ranch south of Yampa. The Routt County Board of Commissioners approved the expenditure of $825,000 in dedicated property taxes to help conserve the family ranch.

1,600-acre South Routt ranch approved for conservation easement

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— The Routt County Board of Commissioners approved Tuesday the expenditure of $825,000 in dedicated property taxes to help conserve one of the largest family ranches in South Routt, the 1,600-acre Nelson/George family’s G5 Home Ranch.

The federal Natural Resources Conservation Service and Great Outdoor Colorado will contribute $1 million toward the conservation easement on the ranch, which appraised at $2.56 million. The owners will contribute $760,000, or just less than 30 percent of the ranch’s value.

The Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust completed the conservation easement and will oversee it. It is not expected to formally close until after the first of the year.

“This is so exciting,” rancher Bobby George said. “This has been my dream. If it wasn’t for these easements, the ranch might already be subdivided.”

The easement, he said, is “a way to keep the ranching going for at least another generation.”

The Nelson/George ranch straddles Colorado Highway 131 south of Yampa with views of Eagle Rock, the Flat Tops, King Mountain and Green Ridge Mountain. The ranch raises both cattle and sheep, and produces hay.

The $825,000 in property taxes includes $25,000 for closing costs, and comes from the Purchase of Development Rights fund. The program is funded by a 1.5-mill property tax re-approved by the voters in 2006 for a period of 20 years.

Commissioners Doug Monger and Steve Ivancie voted in favor of approving the expenditure. Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak is on a medical leave. Commissioner-elect Tim Corrigan participated in the discussion but was not eligible to vote. He will be sworn in Jan. 8.

George said this is the third conservation easement on his family ranch and by far the largest. He said the easement helped to resolve a family estate so that the ranch can remain in production agriculture. He was joined at the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday by his mother, Rita, and his daughter, Madison. Madison and her sister, Morgan, already heavily involved in ranch work, represent the sixth generation of the family on the land.

Purchase of Development Rights Program board member Allan White told the commissioners that the length of time the George family has operated the ranch impressed the board.

“It’s multi-generational, which is really what we envisioned in the early days of PDR,” White said.

George confirmed that in some cases, subsurface mineral rights beneath his family ranched are severed and owned by outside parties.

Megan Knott of the Cattlemen’s Land Trust said her organization hired a consultant to assess the mineral rights status of the land and the likelihood that mineral extraction might take place. It is standard practice, she added.

In the case of the G5 Home Ranch, the results were favorable, she said.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Anita Paquette 1 year, 4 months ago

I am very glad to see this happen for a great family. I pretty much grew up with them. Too bad the conservation easement could not have been applied to the Green Acres Ranch. They have completely ruined the ranch with the greedy realtors. It really hurt Perley, when they did that to him, he just lost his will to live after that. So Thank God the George's found a way to protect thier ranch.

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mark hartless 1 year, 4 months ago

Too bad someone didn't step up and BUY the Green Acres Ranch and PRESERVE it.

I'd almost be willing to bet money that those "greedy realtors" would have been just as happy to sell it all to one benevolent, visionary, preservation-minded individual like... Anita.

I wonder why Anita didn't step up and buy it and preserve it since that seems so important to her?

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rhys jones 1 year, 4 months ago

So basically Routt Couny is spending almost a million dollars of our money, so one family can keep their ranch, including the right to develop underground mineral resources (oil and gas)?

What's the difference between this, and all the other "entitlements" the conservatives are squawking about? Seems the rich take care of their own, first and foremost.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

The Nelson/George ranch straddles Colorado Highway 131 south of Yampa

And what development pressure exists there? The ranch is probably more valuable because it is a relatively rare large parcel

This is an example of what is wrong with the PDR program because it is buying development rights where there is no development pressure. And if there is any pressure to develop then this has just made nearby ranchers under more development pressure because now there is a guaranteed large open nearby.

It would make far more sense for the public to actually get something useful out of these PDRs such as some trails to the more notable features. Sure, have signs saying this is private property and leaving the trail is considered trespassing.

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mark hartless 1 year, 4 months ago

The difference, Rhys, is that the "conservatives" of whom you speak with such contempt are not running this county. This county, and this program, which helps "the rich take care of their own", is right out of the liberal, democrat, progressive, central planning playbook. Don't try to plaster this kind of crap on conservatives' wall. That's complete BS.

Not to mention that your claim of it being "... OUR money" is beyond dubious and borderline hysterical. OUR money? "OUR" implies that you and others have a vested interest. Hard to imagine how much of those funds could be "OURS" if you are as poor and down-trodden as you make out...

If the "rich take care of their own" then what's it to you what they do with "THEIR" tax-money???

Very funny though, that you exibit a bit of indignation about the squandering of "OUR" money on this particular issue when you seem quite comfortable supporting the wholesale fleecing of the rich elsewhere.

Scott is right about the stupidity of buying development rights where no development pressure exists. But perhaps stupidity is a bit too harsh. Maybe corrupt is more accurate.

How folks keep a straight face when talking about how they care about "the children" is beyond me.

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rhys jones 1 year, 4 months ago

Awww, poor Mark, the government makes him give back a little bit of that which he milks off the fat of the land his ancestors stole from the Utes, never having to give a day of his life in service to this country he milks, and he screams bloody murder. Cry my a river, you thieving so-and-so.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

Mark,

Stupidity is too harsh and "corrupt" is kinder? is it really kinder to call a program corrupt than stupid?

I thought the children comment was sort of odd because often a large family ranch is split up, not for development, but to give each child their own ranch. While obviously the cash will benefit the family, over time this PDR can be expected to cause the heirs to sell the ranch since it cannot be split up.

The funny part is that the lack of development pressure is one of the things that prevents this purchase from facing opposition. If there was true development pressure then there would have been local people saying we want that development. There would be some jobs and economic development that PDR is preventing.

I'd hope that County finds a way to work with these ranchers and find a way to more clearly show public benefit of this program. Such as finding a way to add a trail that lets the public appreciate the ranch while not interfering with ranch operations. Maybe it'd be a cross country ski trail where there are no cattle. Could even have a seasonal warming hut. Whatever, but I think this program runs the risk of losing public approval because the actual public benefit is so minimal.

One of these days, a hardball developer is going to offer a stack of 35 acre ranchettes that also have exclusive access (via partnership or such) to a nearby large PDR ranch. So then the very PDR that is supposed to limit development in that area is what is encouraging local development. And then the public will understand how truly little benefit there was to the PDR.

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