|Property sells for $8 million; it adjoins earlier 16,000 acre Wolf Springs purchase
It’s official; after weeks of quiet speculation here, the Navajo Nation has announced its additional purchase of land in Custer County, acquiring the Boyer Ranch adjoining the Nation’s new holdings in the former Wolf Spring Ranch to the south. The Boyer Ranch holdings are west of Highway 69 South, in the Blizzardine area, bounded on the north by County Road 106.
The acquisition extends the Nation’s presence in the county by another 12,505 acres for an approximate total of 28,855 acres straddling both Huerfano and Custer counties. The land is significant for the Navajo, as it is near the sacred mountain Tsisnaasjini’, also known as Blanca Peak.
In announcing the purchase, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said “It is a blessing for the Navajo Nation to once again have land in the state of Colorado. When land was being designated by the federal government they refused to include Colorado as part of Navajo. We now own more of our ancestral land with the purchase of Boyer Ranch. It is a beautiful place surrounded by mountain ranges in the shadows of Tsisnaasjini’.”
He went on to speak about the economic opportunities the new addition brings to the Nation: “This is a place where we can develop the Navajo Beef program and eventually provide more opportunities for our ranchers. There is a good market for quality beef in restaurants and grocery stores and Navajo can meet that demand.” The Nation’s portion of the Wolf Springs Ranch includes about 400 head of cattle, and over 900 head of bison.
The importance of the Boyer Ranch to the Nation goes beyond ranching however, as the ranch has early priority water rights, and the gravel pit there could be used to develop Nation infrastructure.
Vice President Jonathan Nez also sees the potential to one day develop an athletic program that takes advantage of the high-altitude of the land. “We have some remarkable athletes on the Navajo Nation,” he notes, “and this would be a great opportunity to train our youth and celebrate health and wellness. The land there is beautiful and it is not just for us but also for future generations.”
Like Wolf Springs Ranch, which was purchased by the Nation in October last year, Boyer Ranch was acquired with the Nation’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund. The specific legislation to proceed with the purchase was sponsored by Delegate Dwight Witherspoon (Black Mesa, Forest Lake, Hard Rock, Pinon, Whippoorwill) and co-sponsored by Delegate Steven Begay (Coyote Canyon, Mexican Springs, Naschitti, Tohatchi, Bahastl’a’a’).
The President and Vice President expressed their thanks not only to Delegates Witherspoon and Begay, but to the entire 23rd Navajo Nation Council, which approved the legislation, and for supporting initiatives to regain land in Colorado. “We are really privileged to be able to find this land and then to buy it,” President Begaye concluded in his public statement. “It’s a beautiful part of Colorado and we view the purchase as a blessing for the Navajo Nation.”
The Boyer family, which had listed the property with Ranch Marketing Associates for some time, is quite pleased with the $8 million sale. “There have been several offers over the years that didn’t seem right,” noted Kathy (Boyer) LoPresti, who with her spouse Pete, splits time between their residences here in the Valley and in Scottsdale, Ariz. “We are pleased generally, and know the land will be appreciated in the hands of the Navajo.” Dr. David Boyer, retired orthopedic surgeon in Rapid City, S.D., began managing the ranch affairs in 1977; his father had acquired the land through several transactions beginning in 1942. Dr. Boyer, in telephone conversation with the Tribune earlier this week, says of the transition now, “We are grateful for those who have helped so much at the ranch over time, so many families and friends it’s impossible to name them all…For the last ten years or so we have been aggressively pursuing rapid rotational ranching (a holistic approach to sustainable grazing practices), and overall we’re feeling very good in believing the Navajo Nation will take very good care of the land.” His spouse, Mary, whom Dr. Boyer refers to as his “strongest partner” in overseeing the ranch these many decades, added “We have been blessed by our association with the land and operations over the years, and are pleased that the land will be returned to a people with a spiritual interest in its care as well.”
J.D. Henrich, County Assessor, notes that since the property is not tax exempt reservation land, there “should be no tax implications for the county at all; the land usage and buildings won’t change, and the annual tax bill will be sent to the Nation just like to any other landowner in the county.” The 2017 billed taxes for the portion of agricultural acreage and buildings the Nation has acquired was $8,255.78.
– W.A. Ewing