Gittleson Family Cattle Company from Steamboat Springs Wins Bid for 11,000-acre Sherman Creek Ranch in Jackson County
On November 15, 2017, the Commissioners at the Colorado State Land Board unanimously approved a 10-year agriculture and recreation lease with the Gittleson Family Cattle Company for Sherman Creek Ranch, a 10,958-acre property located in Walden, CO.
The Colorado State Land Board is a constitutionally created state agency that oversees three million acres of land in Colorado to raise money for Colorado schoolchildren. It generates revenue by issuing surface leases for grazing, dry land crop production, and irrigated farming as well as for recreation.
Per Colorado statute, the agency publishes quarterly reports for agriculture leases that are expiring and available for public bid. The agency undertook a 5-month, closed bidding process to select a lessee for Sherman Creek Ranch because the existing lease was nearing expiration. The State Land Board received leasing inquiries from 11 different states, 50 people participated in a pre-proposal property tour in August 2017, 12 parties submitted proposals.
"We raise money for Colorado schoolkids by leasing trust land. So we want to manage Sherman Creek Ranch as an economically sustainable agriculture and recreation operation that both produces income for kids and maintains the property's unique and valuable natural resources," said the agency's Assistant Director Greg Ochis, who supervised the bidding process.
Members of the agency's selection committee independently evaluated each proposal using a mixed-criteria matrix, which included the proposer's qualifications and financial standing, projected financial outputs, stewardship, and more.
"While the potential financial return is very important, it was only one of several factors that went into our evaluation of proposals," said Ochis. "Equally important to us were the proposed range management plan, grass monitoring system, experience and depth of the management team, experience in similar landscapes, having a lessee that planned to live full-time on the ranch, and a recreation proposal clearly integrated into the grazing operation."
In October 2017, four finalists participated in interviews with the selection committee. The committee unanimously determined that the Gittleson Family Cattle Company best met the selection criteria and shared its findings with the agency's Governor-appointed Commissioners during the November 15, 2017, public board meeting, the report was publicly posted one week prior to the meeting and remains publicly available online. The Commissioners unanimously approved the lease at the meeting.
"It was such a long and rigorous bidding process," said Kim Gittleson, who was present at the November board meeting to represent the Gittleson Family Cattle Company. "We are so excited and honored to be the ones selected to work this beautiful ranch."
Sherman Creek Ranch is located in Jackson County approximately 10 miles north of Walden, 70 miles east of Steamboat Springs, and 20 miles south of Wyoming. It is part of a Colorado region commonly referred to as "North Park," which encompasses approximately 1,600 square miles. Sherman Creek Ranch abuts the Colorado State Forest along the north and east boundaries. The west and south boundaries are adjacent to a combination of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property and private property. The Colorado State Land Board assembled the acreage at Sherman Creek Ranch over the course of the agency's history, the most recent addition occurred in May 2017 when it acquired the 1,920 acre Adams Ranch.