State of Colorado Presents Freeman Family Business with Statewide Legacy Award

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DENVER — On Dec. 13, 2023, Russell Freeman of Freeman Family Business received the Legacy Award from the Colorado State Land Board at the agency’s annual awards ceremony in Denver.  

Created at statehood, the Colorado State Land Board stewards three million acres of trust land for the benefit of Colorado schools. In the past five years the agency has generated more than $1 billion for public schools by issuing surface leases for assorted uses. The State Land Board partners with more than 3,400 customers and grants four awards to exemplary lessees or partners annually. 

In the spirit of encouraging and fostering the next generation of agriculture leaders in the state of Colorado, this award recognizes a State Land Board lessee who has assigned their lease to a non-familial younger lessee (a lessee 40-years-old or younger).

Freeman’s family has held a lease on a 640-acre section of trust land for more than 80 years spanning three generations of ranchers in their family. Last year they voluntarily assigned their lease to a younger, local ranching family who will carry forward their legacy of good land stewardship.

Typically, agricultural leases on state trust land are 10 years in length. When a rancher holds an agricultural lease and they don’t want it anymore, they have the option to either terminate their lease or assign it to another party. An assignment is when a lessee turns over the remainder of the lease contract to another party. The State Land Board will then evaluate that party to make sure they would be a good partner to the land board and good stewards of the land.

“I am optimistic that the new lessee will uphold Mr. Freeman’s strong stewardship values, and the new lessee’s have expressed gratitude and enthusiasm for the chance to hold a state lease,” said Mariah Pillmore, South Central District Manager for the State Land Board.


About the Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners: The Colorado State Land Board is a constitutionally created agency that manages a $4.4 billion endowment of assets for the intergenerational benefit of Colorado’s K-12 schoolchildren and public institutions. The agency is the second-largest landowner in Colorado and generates revenue on behalf of beneficiaries by leasing nearly three million surface acres and four million subsurface acres for agriculture, grazing, recreation, commercial real estate, rights-of-way, renewable energy, oil, gas, and solid minerals. The agency is entirely self-funded and receives no tax dollars.