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 Colleagues Win ASLA Planning and Analysis Award

ICS Colleagues Win ASLA Planning and Analysis Award

ICS/Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) affiliates Sourav Kumir Biswas and Flavio Sciaraffia won a Planning and Analysis Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) for their project: Productive Conservation. Biswas and Sciaraffia analyzed landscape-scale agricultural practices for the greater Mexico City region that reduce water consumption, resist drought, limit nitrogen pollution, create more structurally resilient crops, enhance native ecologies, and improve water quality. They then explored how to implement these practices at multiple design scales: from a single farm site, to a tributary drainage area, to Mexico City’s entire hydrologic basin.

Their work resulted in funding from Harvard’s Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure, where they worked under the direction of GSD Lincoln Loeb Fellow and ICS Principal Scott Campbell—to examine how similar frameworks could help communities in the American West think about the needs of cities, agriculture, and nature when grappling with issues related to intense water scarcity.

To see how these efforts contributed to ICS projects, read ICS’s Navigating the Wake of Municipal Water Sales report—a collaborative effort between ICS, the researchers, and members of communities in Colorado’s Lower Arkansas Valley.

Super Ditch: ICS Examines a Buy-and-Dry Alternative

Super Ditch: ICS Examines a Buy-and-Dry Alternative

ICS Principal Scott Campbell penned, “Super Ditch,” the fall cover story in Lincoln Institute of Land Policy’s quarterly publication, Land Lines. In it, he explores the launch of the Super Ditch, a corporation designed to become a lease agent for farmers looking to protect agricultural water supplies from municipal acquisitions by leveraging water’s value as an annual cash crop—temporarily leasing it to cities in a rotational fallowing program rather than selling it outright.

In river basins across the American West, where every drop of water is owned and accounted for and no water is available for new uses, cities are buying agricultural water rights in order to supply water to growing populations. These are voluntary economic transactions, frequently negotiated with retiring farmers hundreds of miles from city centers. But when farm communities lose a critical mass of water to municipal sales, economic collapse can ensue; and remaining farms and businesses are sometimes no longer viable. The Super Ditch, a corporation serving eight mutual irrigation ditches across Colorado’s Lower Arkansas River Valley, in an effort to eliminate this zero-sum game, is conducting an experiment that allows farmers to pool supplies from rotationally fallowed fields, rest those fields every one-in-ten years (a good soil management practice), and lease the pooled supplies to cities. This brings cash to the farmer and water to the city, while creating a “buy-and-dry” alternative. (Buy-and-dry refers to municipal water appropriations practices where cities buy interests in farm properties, then fallow those farms to divert the water for municipal use.)

The Colorado project, which is in pilot phase, is fraught with hurdles and complexities. Nevertheless, Campbell argues, the Super Ditch is creating important new paradigms: First, by opening up new market channels, it helps farmers recognize the value of this important natural resource in ways other than outright sales or crop production. (Outright sales don’t enable a farmer to realize gains from water’s increasing value. Crop production profits are subject to the ebbs and flows of markets and commodity prices, which don’t often correlate with water’s value). That not only saves farms, it maintains a field of diversified water ownership. Diversified ownership creates market competition that will more effectively price water in the long run. Even though the price of water out West is increasing, municipal acquisitions tend to keep prices artificially low considering the scarcity of this precious resource.

Click here to read the article.

Click here to view the complete Fall 2015 Land Lines publication.