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-Harvard Engage the West’s Farmers & Ranchers

ICS-Harvard Engage the West’s Farmers & Ranchers

In a semester-long course of study at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, ICS Principal Scott Campbell led planning and design students in a for-credit, hands-on exploration of private-sector land and water conservation efforts. Students explored the inherent potential land trusts and other private sector conservation groups demonstrate in addressing some of the world’s toughest land use and water management challenges. The independent study course, Large Landscape Conservation and the Future of America’s Rivers, examined efforts spanning several major U.S. watersheds, culminating in a trip to Colorado for an exploration of conservation, land use planning, and water management projects in the Arkansas River Basin.

Local, state, and national land trusts have protected as much land in the United States as is encompassed by America’s national parks (approximately 50 million acres) and protect an additional 2,000,000 acres every year. They create parks and trails for growing cities, preserve expansive tracts of farms and forests, safeguard the nation’s foodsheds, and design and execute land use projects driven by conservation, economic, and aesthetic concerns. Unbound by conventional political boundaries, land trusts are becoming increasingly effective regional planning agents, focusing on large geographical areas. They are natural and cultural resource preservation agents in ways that planning, zoning, and environmental regulators are not; and they have the capacity to support community self-determination in ways that government environmental programs often do not. Their success has tremendous implications regarding carbon sequestration, climate change mitigation, sustaining ecological functioning at scale, and building resilience in human communities.

In Colorado, students visited the BX Ranch, a 25,000-acre property bordering the City of Pueblo that was conserved by a for-profit timber investment management company (TIMO), a B-Corporation looking to expand its sustainable forestry work into America’s grasslands and work with the cattle industry to improve grassland health. They visited Steve Wooten, Vice President of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and owner of Beatty Canyon ranch, and visited with farmers whose communities face economic and environmental decline precipitated by municipal “buy-and-dry” practices (a municipal water appropriations practice where cities buy interests in farm properties, then fallow those farms to divert the water for municipal use). The visit concluded in a series of meetings with land trust leaders, water experts, and planning officials to explore the ways in which conservation groups can influence local and regional planning to recouple land use with water management. Read the syllabus here.