The Land Report

Rockies 2018

The Magazine of the American Landowner is an essential guide for investors, landowners, and those interested in buying or selling land. The award-winning quarterly is known for its annual survey of America's largest landowners, The Land Report 100.

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Page 66 of 99

As with many ranches in the West, hunting season can be a challenge on the Winecup Gamble. "Our property is intermingled with BLM, so we can't keep hunters out of our deeded portions. It gets frustrating when the public leaves gates open and trash all over the place. It's really difficult to have a lot of respect for that type of behavior. But the truth is, it's about 10 percent of people who make the rest look bad, so I've taken a proactive approach to communication. The biggest and most rewarding tool that we've used is that in the fall, when we get the most traffic onto the ranch, we send out a letter to every single license holder who has drawn in the area. We sent out 1,900 letters last year. We congratulate them for their tag, let them know we appreciate outdoorsmen and love to hunt and fish ourselves, and that we value their hobbies. Then we tell them that in case they haven't been on this landscape, it is intermingled public and private land. We ask several very simple things of them: please close gates, pick up trash, don't drive roads when muddy, and drive slowly through headquarters because we have kids and pets. We invite them to stop in and to let us know if they have any troubles. Then we provide a map showing access points. I can assure you that this does a whole lot, much more than anything else we can do. We also are involved in the Wounded Warriors program. The ranch donates five youth cow tags and allows those five youths to hunt by appointment on the one locked portion of the private property. Those things have really changed how people see us. Being generous where you can be generous goes a long way." The ranch applied a similar win-win strategy to another situation. One day while out hunting with the owner on a private portion of the ranch, their hunt was interrupted. "Here comes this side-by-side in the middle of this epic hunt with a bugling elk," Rogers recalls. "It really disgusted me. This was private land, but even had it been public space, it was really unethical for this side- by-side to be off the road. So I went to the Department of Wildlife and said I wanted to close the area off to motorized vehicles. So far, a lot of the public is really excited because it creates this safe place where they can get away from ATVs, too. Even though it's private, we still provide access. But now you can't come in with motorized vehicles. The hunters who value that non-motorized area have said they will help police it for us. That's really helpful because it is in a remote area and hard for us to monitor." James admits that there will always be problems and a desire for more privacy. On the other hand, the ability to ranch in this vast open space provides many benefits which would otherwise not be available. "I've been on the smaller, entirely deeded ranches that didn't have this much space, and there are challenges there too. I also think we're relational as people, and having public space forces us into relationships which sometimes can be challenging but are more often rewarding. This public interface challenges us as human beings to make better relationships. My relationships with my wife and kids are better from learning more about how to work with others. We're made to be with other people, not just on our own mountaintops where we lock the gate to be with our own. I think that's kind of shallow." He also believes that while working with public agencies can sometimes be challenging and frustrat- ing, it too has a positive side. "To be honest, the tough conversa- tions have made us a better landowner," he says. R O C K I E S 2 0 1 8 | The LandReport 65 LANDREPORT.COM DAVID PACKER

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