CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A cattle ranch sold by foundations at the University of Wyoming and Colorado State University despite the objection of its late former owner will continue operating without big changes, according to the new owner.
The Y Cross Ranch went on sale earlier this summer and presented a rare opportunity to buy a big Wyoming ranch in one piece, Pine Bluffs businessman Toby Kimzey said Wednesday.
"We own ranches in Pine Bluffs and Glendo and it's just a nice addition to what we have. We just hope to be able to get her all paid for," said Kimzey, owner of a variety of southeast Wyoming businesses and former owner of an oil well casing business.
The universities will still be welcome to bring agriculture education students out to the Y Cross to learn about ranching, he said.
The University of Wyoming Foundation and Colorado State University Research Foundation declined to identify the buyer after the sale Aug. 12, saying he wished not to be named. Kimzey confirmed he was the buyer when reached by The Associated Press.
Denver philanthropist Amy Davis said she came to regret her 1997 donation of the Y Cross, her family's ranch, to the foundations because the universities made little use of it as a field classroom like she intended. She sued to block the foundations' first attempt to sell the ranch in 2012 and lost before the Wyoming Supreme Court in 2014.
She died six weeks later at age 86.
Selling the ranch will honor the intent of Davis' donation by enabling the schools fund endowments for agriculture education scholarships, according to foundation officials.
The Y Cross sprawls across 50,000 acres of deeded and 10,000 acres of leased land between Cheyenne and Laramie. Granite outcrops, rolling meadows and ponderosa pine dominate the barely developed landscape populated by moose, elk and mule deer.
Kimzey said his other businesses include a feed store, gravel company and truck stop. He sold an oil well casing business — Kimzey Casing Service, LLC, which is based in Denver and has offices in Greeley, Colorado; Vernal, Utah; and Washington, Pennsylvania — five years ago, he said.
Kimzey declined to disclose the purchase price of the Y Cross but Laramie County records showing a $23.5 million mortgage on the property suggest it was at least close to the $25 million list price.
He has no plans to allow oil or gas drilling on the ranch — he doesn't on his other properties — and will abide by a Nature Conservancy conservation easement that prohibits subdividing the property, Kimzey said.
"We bought it for a ranch and we wouldn't have been able to buy it if it wouldn't have been in a conservation easement," he said. "Because it would have been a $50 million ranch."
Limited hunting access through an existing contract with Table Mountain Outfitters will continue, Kimzey said.
He plans to continue living in the Pine Bluffs area and have managers run the Y Cross.
"I think everybody has to understand that buying a ranch like that isn't something that's going to make you rich. You're a lot smarter if you'd take that money and probably put it in an endowment or some kind of fund that would draw you some interest," Kimzey said.
"But you know what, that's not the way of life that we choose."
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