North Mountain Ranch RFP: Recreation Lease & Agriculture Lease

The State Land Board occasionally releases Requests for Proposals (RFPs) initiatives such as disposition of land, leasing opportunities, and service contracts. Market-based responses for RFPs support the Board’s selection process of determining the most beneficial opportunities for the trusts in order to preserve the long-term value and income of the assets.

The State Land Board is pleased to release of the North Mountain Ranch RFP (announced and posted on March 1, 2021).  This RFP solicits competitive proposals for a 10-year recreation lease and a 10-year agriculture lease on the North Mountain Ranch trust land located in the North Mountain/Lone Cone area of San Miguel and Dolores counties.

  • North Mountain Ranch consists of approximately 10,894 continuous acres.  
  • The recreation lease is being offered on the entire 10,894 acres. 
  • The agricultural lease is being offered on approximately 75% or 8,210 acres of the entire property and is limited to the middle and eastern portions of the property.  

Interested parties may bid on either lease individually, or both leases combined.  Click here for the entire RFP document.

We will be accepting responses to the North Mountain Ranch RFP from July 1, 2021 to July 28, 2021.  

Mandatory open house for interested parties

The State Land Board will be hosting a mandatory open house tour of the property and attendance by the applicant or their representative is required in order to submit a proposal. We are no longer accepting reservations for the open house. Open house participants were required to RSVP no later than May 31, 2021. 

  • Party size is limited to three people per interested party.  
  • Vehicle access throughout the Ranch is limited and to fully view the property an ATV or UTV is recommended.  
  • There is a limit of three ATV’s or one UTV per party. 
  • Limited viewing of the property will also be possible via 4WD vehicle. 

There are two dates for the open house:

  • June 29, 2021
    --OR--
  • June 30, 2021

NOTE: all attendees are expected to comply with all COVID safety parameters, including wearing masks and social distancing. The open house tour of the property is subject to change or cancellation due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Watch our 4-minute aerial video of the property:

Open Embed

Important:

Only the application fee ($100) for each application is due at the time of the application submission. The first year's rent will be collected after applicant selection. This is described on page 18 of the RFP. 

Q&A Regarding RFP for North Mountain Ranch

The Land Board will post all questions and answers pertaining to RFPs on this website within five business days of receiving the question.

(NOTE: the Land Board accepted questions from RFP applicants through July 14. All questions and answers were posted publicly below on a rolling basis and no later than July 16.)

(Last update: 7/19/2021 at 10:15 am)

 

General Questions

Please hold your questions until the mandatory open house.
After the mandatory open house tour, applicants are encouraged to submit questions to the State Land Board either by phone 719.589.2360 or email dnr_slb_field_ops_rfp@state.co.us.
 

No. You would have two separate leases. The leasing entity would be different for both, even if the LLC manager/owner was the same.

No. You would have two separate leases. The leasing entity would be Please refer to "Section 4.0 - Submittal of the RFP" (starting on page 16) for details on how to submit a proposal. You can mail it to our office in Alamosa (State Land Board, 305 Murphy Drive, Suite A, Alamosa CO 81101) or via email to dnr_slb_field_ops_rfp@state.co.us. However, both application/proposal and application fee(s) must be delivered to the Alamosa office no later than 5 PM, July 28 2021. This is important if you are emailing an application since we will not accept applications/proposals until we receive the application fee(s). Also, we will not accept any application arriving at the office later than the deadline, even if it is postmarked before the deadline. We will hold firm to these requirements. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure timely delivery; please plan accordingly.different for both, even if the LLC manager/owner was the same.

The new lease will start on January 1, 2021, and over-the-snow or vehicle access can begin on that date. Given that things may be snowed in, vehicular access may not be possible until April 1 or later. 

No new roads can be created without the prior approval of the State Land Board (District Manager). Unless otherwise agreed upon, cost will be borne by the Lessee. On all existing roads, the Lessee(s) are responsible for maintaining roads to allow for safe travel and erosion control.

All State owned improvements are insured by the State Office of Risk Management and generally provide for full replacement value less the agency deductible at the time of loss.

Can the Land Board provide a list of maintenance tasks performed in the last two years and their associated costs regarding buildings, roads, and other items of maintenance? Additionally, what are the big (>$1K) maintenance issues over the last 5 years that the lessee has addressed and associated costs?

In the last year or so, several maintenance items at the North Mountain Lodge have been addressed by the current lessee at an unknown cost. These include:
•    Floor replacement in main hallway
•    Repairs to commercial cooler
•    Minor roof repair
•    Repair to concrete patio
•    Re-staining and re-chinking the lodge exterior
•    Kitchen window replacement
•    Installation of a vapor barrier in the crawl space
 
In addition to the Lodge repairs, the current lessee has maintained the roads every three years using heavy equipment.  The stock ponds are also cleaned periodically to maintain capacity. 
 

Is the lessee responsible for taxes on (a) land; (b) improvements (c) both; and/or (d) other taxable assets by the State of Colorado, the respective counties in which NMR sits or some combination of the foregoing? If so, what are the tax assessments against any such assets over the last five years? 

No. In general terms, the land and improvements are not taxed. A County may assess a possessory interest tax on the value of the agriculture lease payments made to the State Land Board.  The agriculture lessee is responsible to stay current with these payments in order to comply with their Lease. The rates of possessory interest tax vary from County to County.  
 
The State Land Board does not keep a record of the annual tax assessments paid by the lessee.
 

All new improvements require prior authorization from the Board. 
 
Further information about improvements, the process through which new improvements may be approved by the Board, and the terms under which the lessee may receive compensation from the State Land Board can be found in the “Improvements or Alterations” section of each lease.  For the Agriculture Lease this is Section 13 and for the Recreation Lease this is Section 16.
 

During the tour it was mentioned that an inspection of the lodge, facilities and improvements was undertaken by a contractor to the state. Will the state share that inspection report with prospective bidders? Has any inspection been undertaken with respect to the Outfitter’s Camp or Sheep Camp? 

As part of the existing lease, the remaining 25% ownership interest in the North Mountain Lodge was purchased by the State Land Board.  Details of that purchase can be found in the 2020 October Board Packet at the following URL:
 
https://slb.colorado.gov/public-meetings
 
As part of the due diligence of this process a home inspection was conducted on the Lodge and the current lessee has agreed to address the recommendations of that report.  
 
No formal home inspection(s) have been undertaken on any of the other buildings.  
 

No.

In general, how late in the year can you reasonably access the property with a vehicle on county roads? With no winter maintenance on the country road going by the ranch, how far from the Ranch entrance is the county road plowed and can you park at that location? 

Vehicle access is typically possible through early December, though the county roads are not maintained in the winter. In Dolores County, there are seasonal closure gates across the Dolores-Norwood Road.


Prospective lessees should check with either Dolores County Road and Bridge or San Miguel County Road and Bridge to confirm the location of winter maintenance and if overnight parking is allowed at those locations. 
 

Yes. It will remain on the site. 

A letter of good credit or sufficient funds from your financial institution would be sufficient.
In the North Mountain Ranch RFP document, please reference either Section 4.5 Recreation
Lease Proposal - Information Required, part “g” (page 19) or 4.6 Agricultural Grazing Lease
Proposal - Information Required, part “g” (Page 21) for further detail on the financial
assurance requirements.

Yes, as long as both people are applicants of each proposal. 

The access easement is a non-exclusive perpetual easement granted to the State Land Board for "agricultural, stock and hunting purposes" only. 
 

Recreation-related Questions

The REC lessee is responsible for keeping facilities in good working order, including ongoing maintenance and minor repairs. They are also responsible for repair of any damages caused by the lessee, clients, and guests. Major repairs or modifications of facilities, repairs to the appliances or facility systems (e.g. furnace, water heater, etc) require prior approval by the State Land Board (District Office), and will be at the State Land Board's expense, or through a cost share agreement with the lessee. Damage caused by events out of the SLB's or lessee's control are covered by the State's Risk Management program.

The new well is limited to 15 gallon per minute (gpm) or 1/3 acre feet annually.

The new well is estimated to produce 10 gpm.  When the well pump is installed later this summer (anticipated to be in place by late August), we will have a better assessment of the well’s production.
 
The Lodge cistern is 2000 gallons.
 

What time frame do you foresee the water well being completed and operating, and will the output be sufficient to supply both summer and winter recreation without having to haul water? Will the lessee be responsible to share in that cost or to maintain the water line from the well to the lodge during the term of a lease? 

In the short term, a well pump will be installed and a portable generator used to run the well. Hopefully this will prove the well has sufficient output for long term use for lodge operations. The portable generator will need to be supplied by the recreation lessee.  It’s anticipated that a generator will be used to run the well through the end of this year.  


It is anticipated that by the end of summer 2022 the water line from the water well to the Lodge will be complete. The well will be metered and that meter will be in the recreation lessee’s name. This will eliminate the need to haul water for lodge operations.
The water pipeline will be installed at cost to the State Land Board and any subsequent major expense of the water system will also be covered by the State Land Board.
 
Small maintenance/repair items such as valve replacement, filter cartridge or pressure switch will be the responsibility of Lessee. 
 

The County Assessor Office may charge a possessory interest tax based on annual lease payments to the State Land Board; it is the lessee's responsibility to stay current with these taxes. Possessory interest tax rates vary from County to County. 
 
The State Land Board does not keep record of the annual utility cost(s) paid by the lessee. 
 

Please see the answer to the following question. 

The Colorado State Land Board’s map server provides current lease information on State Land Board lands, including rights-of-way and other pertinent information.  This map server can be found at the following URL:
 
https://slb.colorado.gov/maps
 
Section 21 of the lease including Section 21.b. refers to the rights reserved by the Board with respect to the subject property.  Section 21.b. reserves the right to the Board to lease the property for other uses, such as, but not limited to, timber management, renewable energy development or mineral development. The rights reserved by the Board are not open for discussion.
 

One of my concerns are the introduction of wolves. What if half way thru the 10 yr year lease a pack of wolves live on the ranch and the elk population goes way down and we need to cut our hunters way down. Can we meet with the board and plead our case to reduce our lease contract?

In the event of a major revenue loss due to outside factors, the Lessee can initiate discussions with the State Land Board regarding lease modifications and rent reductions. Please keep in mind that a significant case must be made to implement changes.  
 

The access easement is a non-exclusive perpetual easement granted to the State Land Board for agricultural, stock and hunting purposes only.  If there were to be a maintenance issue, the State Land Board would participate with the other easement holders to resolve/repair the issue.  

 

NOTE: The answer to this question was updated on 7/19/21 to include the portion in bold. 

While the State Land Board is an entity of the State, we have no control over the allocation or distribution of hunting licenses. If significant changes to license availability are made, the State Land Board would be open to discussing an amendment to the lease that accounts for this type of statewide change.

There are no existing RV hookups on the property, however, the State Land Board would be open to the development of new hookups near the Lodge, Sheep Camp or Outfitter camp.

You do not have to hold a current outfitting license to submit a proposal for the REC lease. However, if you are awarded the lease and intend to offer guided hunts or outfitting services (as defined by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies), you must obtain and hold a current license as required by State law. 

Leased land (including land leased from the State Land Board) is not eligible for landowner vouchers under the Landowner Preference Program.

 

NOTE: The answer to this question was updated on 7/19/21 to include the portion in bold. 

Generally speaking, State Land Board properties that are leased for a period of 10 years have
two official inspections that take place. One at the midterm of the lease and one about a year
before lease expiration. The State Land Board is looking for compliance with the lease
terms/provisions, good management of the lease with respect to authorized use(s), and any
evidence of unauthorized use or issues that need to be address. In addition to these normal
inspections, State Land Board staff may visit and inspect properties at any time during the
lease term to ensure compliance with lease terms.

The Lodge is located in Dolores County and there are no lodging permit(s) with San Miguel
County. If required as part of the proposed REC operation, the lessee should work with Dolores
County to establish the permitted occupancy rate for the Lodge.

Agriculture-related Questions

Due to variables outside of our control (e.g. precipitation, drought, etc.), definitive dates are difficult to predict. We anticipate an on-date for livestock of June 1st and off-date in mid-September. While this off-date may overlap with archery season, the State Land Board expects both AG and REC lessees to work together and minimize conflicts between uses. Actions required to accommodate this cooperation may include, but are not limited to:
1.    When livestock are present, the REC lessee will communicate with the AG lessee about hunting and/or other recreation activities, including use dates and general activity location(s)
2.    During fall hunting seasons, the AG lessee will avoid early morning or late evening livestock work, as well as livestock gathering on hunting dates.
3.    The REC lessee will be responsible for knowing where livestock are present during hunting season, and will adjust hunting plans or activity accordingly. 
 

The State Land Board’s 2016 Asset Management Plan for the property states the following vision for the Ranch,
“The (Ranch) will be managed as an economically sustainable ranching and recreation operation that produces income for the State Land Board while maintaining and improving the improvements and natural values that will contribute to the long-term appreciation of the asset.” 
The result of this vision, includes, but is not limited to the following goals:
1.    Protect and enhance natural values through sound stewardship
2.    Maintain and improve habitat for the dual benefit of wildlife and livestock
3.    Improve understanding of range resources by implementing a range monitoring system
4.    Comply with local and State mandate(s) for noxious weed control
Applicants should keep these goals in mind when developing their specific proposals. 
 

On page 47 of the North Mountain Ranch RFP document, the Resource Management Questionnaire (Agricultural Grazing lease only) details the consequences for unauthorized subleasing, including a sublease fee of 50% and the applicant’s initials. Does this apply to the North Mountain Ranch agriculture grazing lease?  

No. There will not be a sublease fee assessed for agricultural grazing lessees who sublease North Mountain Ranch.  However, the agriculture grazing sublease agreement will need to be approved by the Southwest District Manager on an annual basis. 
 

The agricultural grazing lessee is ultimately responsible to make sure provisions of the agricultural lease are met.  If they are not being met, it will be the agricultural grazing lessee who will be in violation of the lease and subject to consequences.
For example, if the agricultural grazing lessee wants the sub-lessee to be responsible for certain tasks, say noxious weed control, they may have a separate contract to that effect.  But, if the sub-lessee fails to honor the contract and noxious weeds spread across several pastures, it will be the agricultural grazing lessee who is held responsible to control the noxious weeds.
 

Yes.  The State Land Board provides an AUM equivalent table on our website at the following URL:

https://slb.colorado.gov/lease/agriculture

A standard AUM is based on the forage requirements of a 1000 pound cow and her calf. If yearling cattle were substituted for cow-calf pairs, then the stocking rate would be based on the average weight of the yearlings divided by 1000.  So a 700 pound yearling would equal 0.7 AUMs.
 


For the North Mountain Ranch agricultural lease, subleasing the grazing will be allowed without additional fees as long as approved by the District Manager on an annual basis.
 

Annual herbicide use has been employed by the current lessee to reduce thistle infestations. 

The State Land Board generally does not keep records of noxious weed treatment acres or methods.  During lease inspections, the State inspector will note the presence of any noxious weeds and will discuss with the agriculture lessee their noxious weed mitigation efforts and plan.  

The current lessee has reported that weed mitigation efforts were accomplished using ATV sprayers and generally along the roads and around the pond areas. 
 

Current weed mitigation efforts are around controlling thistle.

Yes.  Fences will require several weeks of maintenance each spring and fence materials may be supplied by the SLB.  Weed mitigation efforts will also be annual.  The agricultural lessee may apply for the State Land Board’s noxious weed mitigation cost share program.

An annual grazing management plan is required as part of the North Mountain Ranch
Agriculture Grazing lease. This plan is to be submitted to the Southwest District office by the
spring of each year. While the number of AUMs for a given lease typically don’t change, there
are a number of factors that can result in a change of AUMs (increase or decrease). These
include, but are not limited to,
1. Fire
2. Drought
3. Habitat Management
4. Grazing Management
Given the current drought condition in southwest Colorado, the initial annual grazing
management plan should address drought strategies for the 2022 grazing season. It is also
expected that this annual plan will include on and off-dates, total number of livestock, number
of cattle from each owner, individual owner information including brand, address, and contact
information. It may also include grazing strategies or rotation plans.
The District Manager will review the grazing management plan and will discuss the plan with
the lessee; these discussions can include the conditions under which grazing deferment will
occur.
If a reduction (or increase) in the number of AUMs is decided for the upcoming grazing season,
this change would be reflected in the grazing lease payment in the next billing cycle.

Given the current and ongoing drought, will the Land Board monitor the grazing on a monthly
or bi-weekly basis and make changes with the agricultural lessee during the year, i.e. removing
cattle early, so there will be feed left for the game animals during hunting season?


Grazing plans will be submitted by the agriculture lessee in the spring of each year. As the
grazing season progresses, the District Manager will be notified by the agriculture lessee of any
changes that take place to the grazing plan (e.g. in response to low forage availability).
Additionally, the agriculture grazing lessee is expected to set up and annually utilize a ranch-
wide range monitoring system. This is to better understand the forage resources and any
changes (increase/decrease) in forage quality and quantity.
If, at some point during the grazing season or based on indicators from the annual range
monitoring, the District Manager determines that it is necessary to remove livestock to protect
the wildlife value, the agriculture lessee will be given notice to do so.

Yes. Please find a general agricultural improvements map posted below. This is a general map of fences
and livestock water, but may not include all improvements on the Ranch.

The lessee would need to discuss and obtain approval from the District Manager. Such a
voluntary action cannot result in an overall decrease in lease revenue to the State Land Board.

Payment is invoiced based on the State Land Board carrying capacity determination.

I will be applying with a partner for the agriculture lease. Together we don’t own enough
cattle to graze the lease, but we have a couple of neighbors that would commit a certain
amount of cattle each year to fill the AUM capacity of the Ranch. Should we put everyone on
the application and then it won't be considered subleasing or should we just propose to
sublease a certain amount of AMUs each year?


Applying with a partner on the agricultural lease means that you will have equal and joint
responsibility under the lease. In the case of more than one applicant on a lease, all applicants
need to sign all documents and sign off on the grazing plan.
Anyone who is on the agriculture lease application will be on the lease. Given the scenario you
describe, and unless you want your neighbors to be part of the agricultural lease, it would be
better to propose to sublease a certain amount of AUMs each year.
The North Mountain Ranch agriculture lease is exempt from sub-leasing fees.

Does the grazing lease have some flexibility for on and off dates, as long as it’s compatible
with the recreation lease use(s)? If we get both leases and as the outfitter we are ok with
some cattle on the ranch in September, is it possible to graze a lower number of cattle for 4
months instead of the higher number June-August?


Yes. Such changes to the grazing need to be reflected in the annual grazing plan and discussed
and approved by the District Manager before they are implemented.