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Is Ted Turner playing cowboy or just hogging land?

Old 11-29-07, 08:32 PM
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Is Ted Turner playing cowboy or just hogging land?

Is Ted Turner playing cowboy or hogging land?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22010764/

<b>CNN founder, the largest private landowner, has amassed 2 million acres</b>

Billionaire Ted Turner owns the largest buffalo herd in the country, many of them on his 425,000 acres, some of which is shown here, in Nebraska.

<img src=http://msnbcmedia3.msn.com/j/msnbc/Components/Photo_StoryLevel/071128/071128_turnerland_hmed_1p.hmedium.jpg>

updated 4:54 p.m. PT, Wed., Nov. 28, 2007

MULLEN, Neb. - Ted Turner's men did not flinch. As the price climbed past $8 million, $9 million, $9.5 million, they continued bidding at a rapid-fire pace.

When the auction was over, they walked away with what they came for: <b>26,300 acres of prime ranch land, at a cost of nearly $10 million.</b>

"It hasn't taken long to find out he's serious," said Duane Kime, a rancher and Turner neighbor who was outbid by about $100,000 by the CNN founder.

But what exactly is Turner serious about?

The question gnaws at folks here and in other rural areas of the U.S. where people once thought the billionaire just wanted to play cowboy.

<b>Turner has amassed 2 million acres over the past two decades to become the largest private landowner in the United States.</b> He owns land in at least nine states, with most of his holdings in New Mexico, Nebraska, Montana and South Dakota, and is restoring buffalo, cutthroat trout, wolves, black-footed ferrets and other flora and fauna that filled the Plains before the West was won.

His front men say their boss does not have a secret agenda he just wants to be a rancher. But each big buy only heightens the anxiety and gives rise to conspiracy theories, the most ominous of which hold that the swashbuckling Atlanta executive is bent on putting Nebraska ranchers and farmers out of business.

"With him it's such a concern," said Cindy Weller, who lives on the family ranch near Mullen. "You don't know what his plan is and what he's going to do."

<b>Among the theories: Turner is trying to corner the land over the Ogallala Aquifer, the world's largest underground water system, to gain power in the water-starved West.</b>

Or: He is scheming, perhaps with the United Nations, to create a vast wildlife refuge and turn it over to the U.S. government, removing the land from Nebraska's tax rolls. That could hurt Nebraska schools and other services, which are already starved for cash.

"The entire way of life here is threatened, and it's not just Turner, but he's one reason. The whole area is economically depressed," Weller said.

Mike Phillips, executive director of the Turner Endangered Species Fund, a Turner offshoot, insisted his boss is just a "doggone serious rancher," though one dedicated to preserving the environment.

But Phillips' very presence is making people wonder. He once worked with The Wildlands Project, an environmental group that wants to create a continent-wide network of nature preserves to save endangered species. The Turner Foundation, the charity arm of Turner's empire, has contributed money to it and gives millions to dozens of other environmental groups.

Turner's organizations also have been in discussions with the World Wildlife Fund and the World Conservation Union about conserving bison. The groups have expressed interest in developing a huge park where bison could once again roam the Great Plains.

Actually, Turner's spokesmen say, the driving force behind Turner's land purchases is the desire to make money. Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico, for example, offers weeklong elk hunting excursions at $12,000 per person. He has also entered the restaurant business with gusto, opening more than 50 Ted's Montana Grill restaurants across the country that feature bison meat.

Turner declined to be interviewed, only accepting written questions answered by spokesman Phillip Evans.

"Our agenda is not to create a vast wildlife preserve," Evans, vice president of Turner Enterprises, said in an e-mail. However, he said, Turner is concerned about preserving animal habitat while ranching. "We think we can do both."

Ron Arnold, head of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise and author of several books critical of the environmental movement, said he has studied Turner's activities and come to his own conclusion.

Turner is amassing land for "his own sense of grandiosity," he said. "If he wants to hunt ducks on it, he hunts ducks on it. If he wanted to raise buffalo, he raised buffalo on it. That's all I could conclude."

Turner owns the largest buffalo herd in the country, 45,000 strong, many of them on the 425,000 acres he owns in Nebraska.

The sturdy bison need less attention than cattle, requiring fewer ranch hands. That adds to people's worries here in Hooker County, where there is about one person for every 721 square miles, just 15 kids graduated from high school last year, and the population dropped 3.4 percent from 2000 to 2006.

Another persistent complaint is that Turner's extraordinary ability to outbid just about anyone is driving up land prices, making it tougher for longtime ranchers to expand and keep their operations afloat.

Over the past decade, ranch land in the Sandhills region of the state where Turner owns all his property has more than doubled in price to over $300 an acre.

Kevin McCully, a Mullen-area land broker, said only a part of the increase can be attributed to Turner. Maybe, said Kime, but he just knows he cannot compete: The recent auction was the third time in recent years that he was outbid by Turner, who now borders about three-quarters of Kime's ranch.

Kime now wonders whether someday he might have to sell the ranch that has been in the family for generations.

"Turner might be the only one around that would want to buy it," he said.

__________________________________

Very interesting article. Don't know if the politics forum is the best place for this thread, but seemed better than anywhere else.

I'm fond of the conspiracy theory that claims that Turner's desire is to control water. As we all know, fresh water may be one of the most valuable assets over the next 200 years. Personally, I think more value should be placed on fresh water today. I don't know if I buy this theory, but if it is Turner's desire to "make money" as his spokesman said, he will certainly do it if he continues buying land at the rate that he does. And control of vast amounts of water, even if not part of his big plan, is a side effect of his vast land grabs.

I was familiar with the fact that Turner owned tens of thousands of acres, maybe even much more, land in the Patagonia region of South America. Naturally, I figured he had a lot of land in the states. But until this article, I didn't realize it was so much.

I don't even own ranch land, but I want to at some point. I've considered and researched Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Texas for potential second home ranchland. And this is somewhat concerning, even though there is plenty of land out there at a reasonable price. However, land with live water is at a premium, and one guy gobbling up all the good land makes it tougher for the little guys.
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Old 11-29-07, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by ukywyldcat
However, land with live water is at a premium, and one guy gobbling up all the good land makes it tougher for the little guys.

I dunno. As long he doesn't sell to contractors who want to build sardine apartment complexes, and then have them be offered to only low-income families and subsidized by the state and federal goverment (meaning you and me), I'm currently ok with his purchases.

I can think of a lot of worse things being done with land at the moment.

Hasn't land with flowing water always been a premium?
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Old 11-29-07, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
Hasn't land with flowing water always been a premium?
Of course. But that premium is much higher in certain regions if you have one billionaire buying up any quality land.

To me, the attractive thing about South Dakota and Nebraska ranch land is price. You can get a lot for less. However, if billionaires are buying up large chunks of land, that decent price is going to evaporate.

Honestly, more power to him. I believe in the free market, and he has cash, wants land, so thats just the way it is. If I were him, I'd likely be doing the exact same thing.

I imagine its pretty terrifying for that rancher that was outbid, and is now surrounded on three sides by Turner. I wouldn't like to be in that guys shoes. Imagine, having thousands of acres and feeling boxed in...

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Old 11-29-07, 09:16 PM
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Yeah, it's an interesting story. Hopefully Turner uses it for some good causes.
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Old 11-29-07, 09:51 PM
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He's hogging land. He's all about the UN. Remember, the 9-11 terrorists are freedom fighters.
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Old 11-29-07, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ukywyldcat
To me, the attractive thing about South Dakota and Nebraska ranch land is price. You can get a lot for less. However, if billionaires are buying up large chunks of land, that decent price is going to evaporate.

That's the only way they can sell it.

I would bet you can find relatively cheap ranch land in lots of areas in lots of states.
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Old 11-29-07, 10:23 PM
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If water becomes a real concern, and he refuses access, they'll just ED it from him.
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Old 11-29-07, 10:36 PM
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As we say in MT: "Whiskey's for drinkin' & water's for fightin' "
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Old 11-29-07, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Josh
If water becomes a real concern, and he refuses access, they'll just ED it from him.
Not only that, but I don't read anywhere about the water rights. He can't just take out as much as he wants, he has to have a water right, and those can be tricky. I have 54 acre feet of water rights to my property, which I seem to remember is around 1.5 million gallons. But I can only take it from a specific spot, during specific times, and if I don't use 'em, I lose 'em.

That's one of the stupid things (at least in WA) with water rights. They want people to conserve, but if you do, they take away your water right, without compensation, and if it turns out that the conservation measures don't work, you are screwed. But that's another thread.
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Old 11-29-07, 10:58 PM
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I think kvrdave is going to start a land war!!!!

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Old 11-30-07, 12:14 AM
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Technically he's a buffalo-boy not a cow-boy. He raises bison.
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Old 11-30-07, 12:26 AM
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Originally Posted by pedagogue
I think kvrdave is going to start a land war!!!!

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I concede.
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Old 11-30-07, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by ukywyldcat

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22010764/

Billionaire Ted Turner owns the largest buffalo herd in the country


Sigh.

I guess MSNBC can't afford to hire any fact checkers.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bison

In American Western culture, the bison is commonly referred to as "buffalo"; however, this is a misnomer. Though both bison and buffalo belong to the same family, Bovidae, the term 'buffalo' properly applies only to the Asian Water Buffalo and African Buffalo.
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Old 11-30-07, 01:13 PM
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He's free to do with his money what he wants.
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Old 11-30-07, 01:20 PM
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Next thing you know, he'll colorize it.

Disgusting.
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