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Legacy Ranch Restoration: Land Fragmentation and Consolidation in the West

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Thomas Jefferson is responsible for adding 530,000,000 acres to the United States of America in 1803. Much of the land within the Louisiana Purchase, from the French is now what is considered the “American West.” Fast Forward 59 years with Abraham Lincoln in the oval office. On May 20th, 1862, he signed The Homestead Act into law, which encouraged Western Expansion. There was only one requirement to be eligible for this Act and that was for the landowner to be at least 21 years of age. This was the beginning of Western Expansion, which inspired people to leave the hustle and bustle of expansive eastern cities. It was this time in history when ranches and homesteads were first established.

Now in 2022, amidst the Covid-19 global pandemic another migration West has been occurring. For some it may not be truly moving “West,” yet more purchasing a second home, or for others it may be to permanently relocate to the American West. The reality of so many people wanting to live the “country life” is ranches of all sizes have been sold and broken up into subdivisions. This is an ideal time now for ranch restoration.

Horseback Riding

Ranch and Land Consolidation

Live Water Properties & Live Water Jackson Hole are proud to state in the last 12 months we have helped incoming landowners place multiple tracts of land back into one ranch. We call it land consolidation. One example is a ranch located along the Gros Ventre River near Jackson Hole, Wyoming; the properties listed for sale with Live Water Jackson Hole were named the Gunsight Ranch and the Goosewing Ranch.

Aerial View of Ranch
Land Consolidation

Rejoining the Goosewing and Gunsight Ranch

The story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide on November 3rd, 2021, in an article written by Mark Huffman explores how “A new owner has rejoined two parts of the Goosewing Ranch that were sundered more than 40 years ago.” Further, “It’s expected that the 44-acre Goosewing, operated as a dude ranch since the 1970s, will stay in the same business, reunited with the Gunsight Ranch, the neighboring parcel split from it in 1980.”

Live Water Jackson Hole Real Estate Agent, Latham Jenkins, brokered both deals rejoining the two parcels, inholdings surrounded by U.S. Forest Service land far up the Gros Ventre valley near the Continental Divide. Quoted in the article, “Jenkins said the buyer, who at least for now intends remain an anonymous, is a local with a liking for the dude ranch business who has plans to improve the property.” Additionally, Latham Jenkins is quoted saying, “He [the buyer] has aspired to have a guest ranch from his past experience of being a guest at one, and he saw this as an opportunity to put back together the original Goosewing tract.”

What’s been the Goosewing in recent decades, though the smaller of the two spreads, is extensively improved for vacationing dudes and was advertised for $9.5 million. The Gunsight’s 110 acres offered a large house that’s been home to the previous owner and a caretaker’s house, though much of the acreage is irrigated hayfield and was on the market during the summer of ’21 for $16.5 million. “Rejoining subdivided land was always seen as a noble goal, but the two parcels were offered and could have been sold on their own,” said Jenkins. Additionally, “Everyone feels fortunate this opportunity with the buyer came about, to put the two parcels back the way they were.” This is how the ranch restoration developed.

House with Trees
Aerial View of a Land

Rejoining a Historic Plantation

The second example, where a property was combined with more to recreate a legacy land holding, occurred in 2021, with the historical Twickenham Plantation in South Carolina. Located in the ACE Basin, midway between Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia, 20 minutes from Beaufort and 45 minutes from Hilton Head Island and Bluffton, these three properties were not encumbered by conservation easements at the time of sale. Given the wildlife and bird habitat and their historic nature, Alex Maher, owner and broker of Live Water Properties, worked with his Buyer on the Twickenham assemblage. Due to Broker and Buyer diligence and commitment it is now one step closer to being restored to its original size and nature, as opposed to being further subdivided and developed.

The Twickenham Plantation was founded in 1732, under a grant from England’s King George II and was assembled by Walter Izzard in 1733. The main home burned down twice over time, both in the Revolutionary War and again later by General William T. Sherman’s troops during the Civil War. The home was rebuilt in 1878, by Major John Screven, and recently, the 4,000 sqft. historic plantation home underwent an extensive three-year remodel, which was completed in 2018.

For the sportsman, the three properties now combine to include over 248+ acres of interior controlled rice fields with excellent annual migrations of teal, ringnecks, wood ducks, pintails, and other species. There are old growth quail woods with established courses to foster natural wildlife and ideal shooting conditions. The variety of quail courses keeps hunters active without undue pressure on coveys. Through land restoration the one property now boasts even better turkey and trophy whitetail populations. Additionally, there is a 12-acre dove field, a pheasant “tower release” for the “highbird” shooting experience for larger hunting parties, and a five-acre stocked bass lake.

Montana Ranches for Sale
Montana Ranches for Sale
Montana Ranches for Sale

Consolidating Three Ranches to Create the Little Belt Cattle Company

Returning to the West, a third instance of land consolidation occurred during the purchase and merging of properties, with ranches located in a fabled valley in Montana. The combination of three ranches is now known as the Little Belt Cattle Company (LBCC). Daisy Dean, Lazy Daisy and Robidou Ranches were the three cattle Ranches for Sale in Montana that Craig Janssen and Jack McInerney (of the Bozeman Live Water Properties office) had the notion of combining – the detailed story can be found in an earlier blog (click here.)

Little Belt Cattle Company has a simple mission, “to provide the highest quality protein we can, that’s good for both people and the environment.” The dream of LBCC was not one created over night; actually, it was quite the opposite; the seed of one of the owner’s vision was planted over a decade earlier when he worked as a summer fishing guide in Missoula, picking up work as a ranch hand during the winter months. “Helping out on cattle ranches was a good outlet for me and an opportunity to get outside – I enjoyed working with good people and learning from many friends,” Greg Putnam said. It is with this learning that we can form a plan for land consolidation and ranch restoration.

Ranch and Land Consolidation

Here at Live Water Properties, we assist landowners in selling ranches while we also excel in helping others find a new property, perhaps with legacy ranch restoration and rejoining subdivided land. The Brokers of Live Water Properties & Live Water Jackson Hole are creatively searching for rewarding opportunities to combine properties with the purpose of creating the original vision of preservation land ownership.

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