Archive for August, 2013

Ranches for Sale in Utah: The Iconic Trees Ranch Adjoining Zion National Park Sold by Mirr Ranch Group

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Summary: The 2,066 acre Trees Ranch adjoining Zion National Park in southern Utah was sold this month by Mirr Ranch Group of Denver, Colo. Listed for $25 million, the conservation property sold to a private party, and the sellers are the heirs of Jim Trees and Lionel Pincus.

DENVER, COLO. [August 21, 2013] – Trees Ranch, a 2,066-acre ecologically-rich property surrounded by Zion National Park and the Canaan Wilderness Area in Springdale, Utah, was recently sold by Mirr Ranch Group of Denver, Colo. Listed for $25 million, the conservation property sold to a private party. The sellers are the heirs of Jim Trees, founder, former chairman and CEO of Fischer, Francis, Trees and Watts, Inc., and the heirs of Lionel Pincus, founder of Warburg Pincus, LLC.

“We are pleased to have found a buyer who will be a good steward of the land, a legacy started by Jim Trees and Lionel Pincus many years ago. They saw the ranch as an opportunity to have a national park of their own, and it looks like that legacy will continue,” said listing broker, Ken Mirr.

The Trees Ranch transaction comes on the heels of other Mirr Ranch Group sales adjoining National Parks, such as the Mantle Ranch, an inholding in Dinosaur National Monument. Furthermore, the Sandy Ranch, a cattle ranch adjoining Capitol Reef National Park with large grazing allotments on the adjoining Dixie National Forest and BLM lands, is currently on the market.

“This sale adds to Mirr Ranch Group’s proven track record of marketing and selling ranches and conservation properties in the West including those adjoining National Parks, National Forests and other public lands. We are the leading brokerage for these types of unique properties,” added Mirr.

The distinctiveness of Trees Ranch is reflected by its scenic landscapes, rare flora and fauna, valuable water rights, a 60-acre lake, miles of riparian corridors and river, irrigated fields and orchards, and inimitable architecture. In addition to access and adjacency to the park and wilderness, the ranch’s significant conservation values include Utah’s first “Wild and Scenic” designation on the adjoining Virgin River and Shunes Creek, its adjacency to a “Natural Research Area” in Parunuweap Canyon, and significant historical and cultural sites like the Shunesburg settlement and traces of the Virgin Anasazi and Paiute Indians.

“The Trees Ranch is one of the most unique ranch properties in the Southwestern United States. The ranch’s proximity to Zion National Park makes it the ultimate conservation and recreation property – a true one of a kind,” explains Jason Corzine of The Trust for Public Land.

For media inquiries, arrange for an interview, or get an expert quote, please contact Mallory Boyce at (303) 623-4545 ext. 4. Photography available upon request.

About Mirr Ranch Group
Mirr Ranch Group offers marketing and buyer acquisition services for fine sporting properties and legacy ranches for sale throughout the American West. Brokers for the company are known for their expertise in sporting, public lands and conservation in addition to their unsurpassed knowledge of ranch transactions.

For more information, contact:
Mirr Ranch Group
915 South Pearl Street
Denver, CO 80209
(303) 623-4545

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Water and the American Landowner Part 3 of 3

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Examples of Forward Thinking in Water and Land Conservation
Part 3 of 3 – By Tom Roberts

The following article is the third in a three part series where Open Fences is highlighting innovative land and water conservation practices by landowners throughout the United States. In the first article, we introduced a rice farmer in Texas who has conserved 40% of his water usage and increased yields with a technique called precision grading on his fields. In the second article, we introduced Beartooth Capital, an investment group out of Montana that acquires degraded ranch properties and conducts ecological enhancements to increase the value of the investments.

For this third article, we are going to introduce a land management and business tool called environmental banking as a way for property owners to generate substantial income from their land while simultaneously improving the health of the environment.

Ranches for Sale

Environmental banking can basically be described as the creation of a natural resource commodity that is then sold to a customer, usually a developer or polluter who is required to pay compensation for the impacts associated with their activities.

For example, if a developer had plans to build houses or roads on a parcel of land that included wetlands and these wetlands were impacted from the construction activities, then by regulations set forth by the US Environmental Protection Agency through the Clean Water Act, the developer would be required to compensate for these wetland losses. The US Army Corps of Engineers would have jurisdiction of the process and would be the agency responsible to ensure the compensatory actions were met.

To further the example, say this developer impacted one acre of wetlands, then they would be required to mitigate for at least one acre of newly built wetlands, but oftentimes the Army Corps of Engineers will set the ratio at 2 acres to 1 or even 3 to 1. This process can become very expensive as they will have to pay for the design, construction, monitoring and maintenance of the mitigation wetlands. Plus, they are not off the hook until the Army Corps of Engineers certifies them as successful wetlands five years after construction is completed. This can be a long and expensive process, especially if their mitigation efforts are unsuccessful because they will have to start over.

However, there is another better option for this developer, which would be to purchase credits from an existing wetland mitigation bank instead of going through the process of doing it themselves. This article isn’t to show how developers and polluters can get out of having to mitigate their actions, but rather to show how ranch owners can provide an environmental benefit and take advantage of a growing market.

A wetland mitigation bank is where a landowner has built wetlands on their property for the purpose of selling the credits to people like this developer. The owners of the bank must go through a process to have the wetlands certified to ensure they function as a healthy ecosystem, but once they do, they are able to sell these credits on the market to customers within their area, usually based on the watershed where the wetlands are located. This is almost always substantially more cost effective for the developer and provides a much healthier and functional result on the ecosystem scale.

This isn’t just a better option for the developer because on the other side of the deal is that landowner who understood that they could create a commodity that could be sold in a real market that is producing substantial revenue streams. Some estimates have shown that the average cost to construct a wetland mitigation bank could be in the range of $10,000 to $30,000 per acre and would include the design, planning, and construction costs. However, these estimates also show that the average cost of the sale of the credits can range between $60,000 to $100,000 per acre depending on the supply and demand forces as well as the intensity of development within a certain area.

Some of the resources required for the wetland bank would, obviously, be to have land, appropriate soils, a good water source and the rights to use this water in this manner. If the resources were available, then it could make a lot of sense to explore the option of creating an environmental bank as another source for potentially substantial income and to create a real and lasting benefit for the environment. For ranchers and farmers who already have the natural resources available, but not the financial resources, they could explore the option of having an investor provide the capital costs to get the project going and share in profits from the sales.

Although the example that we discussed highlighted a wetland mitigation bank, there are many other types of environmental banking opportunities that a landowner could potentially initiate. These banks are becoming a major tool for the entrepreneurial land owner and investor. As with any business decision and investment, they will want to explore the potential of the commodity market they would be entering and identify the opportunities and constraints on their land.

Some of the other environmental banks that have been initiated are as follows:
• Wetland mitigation banks
• Carbon banks
• Energy banks
• Endangered species habitat banks
• Land development banks
• Water and water quality banks
To learn more about environmental banking and to see if developing a bank would make sense on your ranch property, please contact Tom Roberts, president of Western Lands – Ranch Restoration Services at 720-936-9973 and also visit their website at
Western Lands – Ranch Restoration Services is a company with offices in Parker, Colorado and Bozeman, MT. We provide design, project management, and owner’s rep services for the owners of legacy ranch properties throughout the United States.

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What is the status of the rural economy?

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Are Farmland Prices Stabilizing?
(AgProfessional) The stabilizing process we’ve mentioned in recent issues is evident in data released to LandOwner from Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica).

The Omaha-based lender is the largest ag real estate lender in its four-state service region, which covers Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

The association monitors ag real estate value trends through its semi-annual appraisal update of 65 benchmark farms located throughout its service area.

Its appraisal team reviews thousands of completed farm real estate transactions in the process.

The July 1 update below shows the value of the 21 Iowa benchmark farms rose slightly more than 6% during the first half of 2013 compared to the 13.8% surge the last half of 2012.

Farms for Sale

The 19 Nebraska benchmark farms show a 7% rise — down from 12.3% the last half of 2012. Those gains amount to about a one-percentage-point gain per month.

In our view, that type of increase points to a market that is transitioning into a stabilizing market.

The 23 South Dakota benchmark farms report a 9.5% six-month gain. While down from the astonishing 17.6% burst seen last half of 2012, the 1.6%-per-month increase is too strong to be considered a market that is stabilizing.

The update shows a lift in the value of Wyoming farmland. The update lists a gain of 3.3% for the first half of 2013.

That compares to no change in values during the last half of 2012.

FCSAmerica says the rise in Wyoming is driven by increases in cropland values that offset slight declines in the value of ranchland in the state.

Additionally, the Iowa market seems to be in the same spot as it was a year earlier.

Land values were stabilizing after posting a 6.2% rise the previous six months. But values surged as grain prices rocketed.

That does not seem likely this year with soil moisture supplies recharged.

But this crop is not yet in the bin.

However, Nebraska is cooling, too. Its current rise of 7.1% is the first single-digit six month rise since last half of 2010.

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