ICS Enterprise Launch: Frost Ranch Sportsmen Club

ICS Enterprise Launch: Frost Ranch Sportsmen Club

ICS helped Frost Livestock Company launch a private sportsmen club for fowl, small game, and big game hunters on its 24,000-acre, Frost Ranch property. Frost Ranch Sportsmen Club, LLC, a subsidiary enterprise of the livestock company, is an important component of two succession-planning endeavors designed to help the company facilitate a shareholder buyout and consolidate company interests: (1) the pursuit of venture capital, and (2) the launch of new ranch-based enterprises.

The overarching goal is to facilitate the transfer of shareholder interests without having to subdivide portions of the ranch—thereby keeping the historic agricultural operations whole. Frost Livestock Company retained ICS to develop capital acquisition strategies and assess green energy, water, tourism, agricultural, and educational enterprise development opportunities that could help it achieve this goal. The sportsmen club is the first of several planned subsidiary enterprise businesses. New enterprise development is key to increasing company revenues, creating loan leverage opportunity, supporting capital development strategies, and bringing the next generation of ranchers home.

Frost Ranch lies less than thirty minutes from downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado, and twenty minutes from downtown Pueblo. Five residential structures exist on the ranch, the largest of which, the “Big House,” a historically and architecturally significant home, serves as the clubhouse for the new enterprise. The 6,500-square-foot adobe home with 5 bedrooms, 5 baths, and 5 fireplaces was designed and built by Wallace Frost, the architect who, among many notable achievements, designed actress Ellen DeGeneres’s 1930’s era home, which is the subject of her 2015 book: Home. Cattle and sheep are raised on the ranch, which also grows organic produce and is a member of the Arkansas Valley Organic Growers Cooperative and the Colorado Farm and Art Market.

The Big House on Frost Ranch.

The ranch contains a mix of wetland and upland prairie habitat spanning the Fountain and Chico drainage basins. Two miles of Williams Creek and three miles of Fountain Creek course through the main section of the property, and exceptional waterfowl hunting exists on wetlands spanning the 1,000-acre area near the confluence of these two streams. Portions of Chico Creek also cross the property. In addition to duck, geese, and other migratory waterfowl, there is an abundance of turkey, quail, whitetail deer, mule deer, pronghorn, and small game hunting on the ranch.

The Frost family, nationally recognized as conservation pioneers, worked with ICS to design a club that provides an exceptional, intimate experience for a limited number of hunters, their families, and their guests. They wanted a club that advances a conservation ethos on the ranch; informs and shapes native-habitat- and ranch-improvement projects; works in concert with existing farm and ranch operations; and builds meaningful, long-term relationships based on shared values. The club, which launched in 2017, has already offset all business development, operations, legal, and consulting expenses with substantive first year revenues.  ICS continues to work with the company on new enterprise development, business and succession plans, and profitable ecosystem service payment opportunities.

Meet the next generation of Frost ranchers.  Watch the video.

ICS Helps Launch New Babbitt Center

ICS Helps Launch New Babbitt Center

The intimate connection between land and water is often discussed in academic circles but not well integrated into land use and water management policy and practice at the local level. The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (LILP) and the Sonoran Institute (SI) asked ICS to help change that. In 2016, ICS was commissioned to guide the launch of a new water center and a cooperative, joint-venture program in the Colorado River Basin. That effort resulted in the launch of Lincoln Institute’s Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy, announced on May 2, 2017, and a LILP/SI joint venture—Resilient Communities and Watersheds—focused on integrating land use and water policy at the local level in the Colorado River Basin.

“It’s been said that water is the new oil, and if we want to ensure that future generations have adequate supplies, we have to understand the intimate connection between land and water,” said George W. “Mac” McCarthy, President and CEO of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (LILP). ICS Principal Scott Campbell added: “Around the globe, there is a fundamental lack of integration between land-use planning and water management; yet land is the medium through which our water resources are managed—knowingly or unknowingly, wisely or unwisely, sustainably or without regard for the future. Most all of our water problems are land-use based.”

The Center, which will be based in Phoenix, is named for Bruce Babbitt, former Arizona governor, Secretary of the Interior under President Bill Clinton, and longtime board member of LILP. Jim Holway, former director of the LILP/SI joint Western Lands and Communities program and former assistant director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, will serve as the Center’s first director.

“I am honored to be associated with this initiative and vision,” said Bruce Babbitt. “The Lincoln Institute has emphasized the importance of land and land policy in addressing the world’s toughest problems, and the stewardship of water resources is at the top of the list. We all need to be aware of the connection between water and land.” “It’s a two-way street,” added McCarthy. “How we plan and use land has an impact on water, and water availability has an increasing impact on how we can use land. We seek to bridge these two worlds to better meet the needs of people, agriculture, and nature.”

The Lincoln Institute is a private operating foundation whose mission is to be a leading center for the study of land policy and land-related tax policy throughout the world. The mission of the Sonoran Institute, which serves the Intermountain West, is to connect people and communities with the natural resources that nourish and sustain them. LILP and SI have partnered for 11 years assisting western communities in applying pioneering approaches to the challenges associated with growth, economic development, climate change, and natural resource management.

ICS Guides Gates Family Foundation Strategic Plan

ICS Guides Gates Family Foundation Strategic Plan

The Gates Family Foundation has committed more than $350 million to Colorado philanthropic endeavors since its creation. In 2011, under the leadership of Tom Gougeon, the Foundation initiated a fundamental shift in its grant-making approach, devoting 60% of its resources to funder-initiated grant making programs that could better address critical conservation, education, and community development needs in the State of Colorado. In 2016, the Foundation asked ICS to assess its move beyond responsive capital grant making and help launch a new strategic planning effort by evaluating how funder-initiated grant making was working in its first five years.

The beauty of funder-initiated grant making is that it enables a foundation like Gates to say, “Hey, we want to move the needle in this area, and we think we can pull together the right partners and provide them with the resources to do it.” That’s a huge shift from responsive capital grant making, which says: “These are the things we care about. Come to us with your ideas for supporting these things and we’ll fund the best ideas through a competitive selection process.” With initiated grant making, foundations have to be exceptionally knowledgeable in the subject matter, knowledgeable enough to identify systemic problems that no amount of responsive grant making is going to fix. Then they need to get deeply involved in the issues themselves, demonstrating incredible persistence—as if they were a high-functioning operating foundation setting out on a lifetime mission. Finally they must possess a certain degree of risk tolerance if they are going make long-term investments in systemic change that is not easily won. Investments often begin to increase in amount, lengthen in time, and hone in on certain geographies; and greater demands are often placed upon foundation staff.

When making investments that carry a certain amount of risk or may succeed only after multiple attempts, strong working relationships with partners and grantees become critically important. In this sense, initiated grant making is actually helped when foundations like Gates develop and vet relationships through responsive grant-making experiences. Not all investments have to be risky or daring, but when they are, a foundation certainly wants to know that its recipients and partners are doing all they can to succeed. Because that, of course, is the hallmark of a great foundation: investing in things not because the foundation knows they will work, but because the societal need is great.

State of the Rockies Kicks off with ICS Keynote

State of the Rockies Kicks off with ICS Keynote

ICS Principal Scott Campbell kicked off the 2015-2016 Colorado College State of the Rockies Project, The Scales of Western Water, as its keynote speaker. Campbell christened the thematic undertaking by examining landscape-scale approaches local, state, and national conservation groups are taking with respect to river management—approaches that attempt to holistically address the needs of cities, agriculture, and nature.

His talk, Surface Tensions: Large Landscape Conservation and the Future of America’s Rivers, shows how these approaches embody a radical change in thinking about rivers—from the 20th century belief that harnessing and controlling flow was in the best interest of society (an idea that emerged following the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and the subsequent national Flood Control Act of 1928) to our 21st century scientific understanding of the importance of natural flow variability in river systems.

Campbell shows how flood control in the Mississippi River and its tributaries reversed sedimentation regimes that, over thousands of years, helped build the Mississippi Delta. With that reversal came the loss of delta lands—more than 2,000 square miles sinking into the Gulf of Mexico since the 1930s—and the greater susceptibility of cities like New Orleans to storm surges precipitated by tropical storms and hurricanes.

Underscoring how ill-equipped we are to fully understand and appreciate the economic value of river ecosystem services such as sedimentation processes, Campbell highlights how the 500 lives and 130,000 homes lost to the Flood of 1927 pale in comparison to the 800,000 housing units and 1,833 lives lost in Hurricane Katrina—a hurricane whose devastating effects were in part due to the disappearance of the Mississippi Delta as a natural storm surge barrier.

He then goes on to examine how the increasing effectiveness of land and water conservation groups—combined with better scientific understanding, the ability to voluntarily bank water in storage facilities to create pulse flows, and new technical tools such as engineered sediment diversions—offers promise to restoring America’s rivers…not at a localized scale that has no systemic impact, but at a basin-wide, watershed scale.

Rockefeller Tags ICS for Resiliency Planning Expertise

Rockefeller Tags ICS for Resiliency Planning Expertise

Homes in the wildland-urban interface facing catastrophic fire. Commercial districts in flood zones. Coastal cities confronted by rising sea levels and increasingly devastating storm surge effects. Between 2011 and 2013, there were 67 presidentially declared disaster areas in the United States. The federal government spent $136 billion on disaster response. But how well spent are recovery dollars when recovery focuses on rebuilding communities and infrastructure that are just as prone to subsequent disaster?

With extreme weather events and flood risks escalating, the Rockefeller Foundation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) partnered to change the paradigm of disaster response and recovery to one of planning, preparation, and returns. The result was the National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC)—which awarded $1 billion to communities affected by disaster who could demonstrate an ability to not just rebuild, but to design and rebuild in ways that ensured future resiliency. The 67 disaster areas declared by President Barack Obama were eligible for the funds. Rockefeller ran nine nationwide trainings for eligible jurisdictions, bringing together 350 experts from around the globe to initiate the needed paradigm shift. ICS was one of them.

At the Denver training, ICS provided presentation examples of fire and flood resiliency projects in its home state of Colorado (to see a presentation summary, click here) and served as a technical advisor to the New Orleans applicant team. ICS Principal Scott Campbell spent time in the city studying post-Hurricane-Katrina recovery efforts and the effects 20th century engineering projects on the Mississippi River and its tributaries have had in lessening the city’s ability to withstand storm surges produced by tropical storms and hurricanes. (For more information about ICS’s thinking on river management and restoration activities, including a video lecture—and to learn more about the issues faced by the City of New Orleans and other Mississippi Delta coastal communities—click here.)

New Orleans was one of thirteen fund recipients, receiving over $141 million in NDRC funds to establish its first-ever Resilience District. Investments will support several integrated initiatives that include coastal restoration, workforce development, and creating parks and green streets that will create a national model for retrofitting post-war suburban neighborhoods into resilient, safe, and equitable communities of opportunity. For more about the NRCD competition and the award winners, click here.