I know the calendar says 2024, but at Mirr Ranch Group our team is always looking to build on past successes. So join me for a look at the “Mirr Ranch Group Top 10 for 2023,” which will give you an idea about the issues and opportunities in front of us this year.
1. WATER IN THE WEST: There simply isn’t another regional issue more important than water. After years of drought in many areas, the 2022-23 winter brought impressive snowpack that lifted many states out of drought, including all of California, and swelled rivers across the West. (It was hard on wildlife, though). Also significant: the May agreement reached by Arizona, California and Nevada to take significantly less water from the Colorado River. Here’s hoping we have another strong year for snowpack and we see continued innovation that makes the best use of available water.
2. KING LAND AND WATER ALLIANCE: You can do a lot on your own if you put your mind to it. But you can do more if you find allies to work with you. Which is why we’re so excited about Allies in Ranch Brokerage & Conservation Real Estate, the partnership we launched in 2023 with King Land and Water. Created by James King, the sixth generation of a legendary Texas ranch real estate family, King’s company has a focus on legacy ranches and conservation real estate. That’s a perfect match with Mirr Ranch Group. So now we look forward to being able to showcase more ranches in Texas and the Southwest. Perhaps more importantly, though, we expect this alliance to enable both partners to continue to redefine the ranch real estate landscape for high-value ranches and conservation properties.
3. LEADING WOMEN: I had the honor in the past year to speak with two women making a difference in the West. Amber Smith of Women in Ranching is working to create a community of women in ranching through, among other things, events that bring women together to learn from (and support) each other. Amber noted that the bottom line for women is simple: They want to be involved. “There are women who love cooking the big meal for branding, but there are a lot of women, particularly younger women, who want to be in on the action, roping calves.” And then I met the irrepressible Erin Crider of Uncharted Outdoorswomen, who is blazing a trail to help more women hunt and fish. While her business is taking off, she told me it’s about more than dollars and cents: “I started my business because I thought if more women bought a fishing license and all of that money goes to conservation, it would make women more aware of what’s going on around them.”
4. EXPLORA PROJECT: I won’t argue if you say Patagonia is pretty far afield of the Mirr Ranch footprint. But the Torres del Paine Conservation Reserve, a 14,800-acre private conservation reserve just east of Torres del Paine National Park in the heart of Patagonia, is founded on principles that are very close to home for us. That’s why we are partnering with Explora, the world class exploratory hospitality group, on the Reserve project, where one can own property at one of the most significant landscapes in South America while also partnering to fund its protection in perpetuity through a conservation project managed by the Nature Conservancy. Interested in becoming a member? Contact me.
5. PEOPLE OF THE WEST: Meeting new friends and connecting with old ones is a big plus of my job. Among the highlights of the past year was talking with ranch expert James Rogers and Marissa Taylor of Lonetree Ranch in Wyoming about how they created Northway Ranch Services, a ranch asset management program. But we also lost old friends, most notably John Fielder, the unparalleled photographer of Colorado’s wildest beautiful places. I had the good fortune to work with John in 2009 on Ranches of Colorado, a project and book celebrating private state ranchlands, when I was President of the Board of the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts. John, who died in August, left behind an enduring legacy by donating more than 7,500 photos taken since 1973 to History Colorado, which is making the images available for everyone.
6. VALUE PROPOSITION: The numbers don’t lie when it comes to value of land in 2023. Consider the latest Summary of Land Values from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which showed Farm Real Estate Value up 7% over 2022, Cropland Value up 8%, and Pasture Land Value up 6.7%. Closer to home in the Mountain Region, where Mirr Ranch Group mainly brokers ranch properties, there was 4.3% growth in Farm Real Estate Value, a 3.9% hike in Cropland Value and a 3.2% advance in Pasture Land. Even closer to home: Real Estate Value in Colorado soared 10.2% over 2022. Learn more.
7. NOTABLE DEALS: In Wyoming, we continue to expand our presence across the Cowboy state and work again on amazing projects in the Upper Green River Valley. We represented the buyer of the Bar Cross, a significant operating ranch at the base of the Wind Rivers with exceptional fishing, big game hunting, and important conservation values, including a critical wildlife migration corridor. 2023 also saw us wind down the sale of Cross Mountain Ranch, a renowned Northern Colorado ranching empire of over 224,000 acres and 20 miles of streams spanning four counties. This represented a unique opportunity to assist the family in strategically marketing varied landscapes and rich wildlife resources.
There were, of course, notable off-market sales throughout our territories as well, including a gem on the headwaters of the North Platte River with over 6 miles of the best fishing the North Platte has to offer.
We had continued success in our other markets including the sale of BX Ranch, which was a conservation victory for the sustainable cattle ranch, as well as the sale of Encampment River Ranch, a prolific fly fishing retreat in Wyoming. And our sale of the Miller Time Ranch in Utah illustrated our continued success in Utah as we expand and consolidate our foothold in the Beehive State.
8. THE MIRR TEAM: We have a great group of people, but it’s always a good idea to keep adding great team members. So we have done just that in the past year. For starters, Willy Strazza and Harry Woodward have joined the team as Broker Associates in our home office and will focus on Colorado. And Erik Anderson joined our sales team in Wyoming. Finally, we are excited to welcome Isabelle Mayo as our Marketing Manager.
9. NOW HEAR THIS: The Land Bulletin Podcast has been a bright spot for Mirr Ranch Group since its debut. Under the talented stewardship of ranch broker Haley Mirr, the podcast has delivered enlightening conversations with experts on the likes of ranch and sporting property market, stewardship practices and current events impacting landowners and ranchers. If you haven’t checked them out yet, here’s where to find the top five most listened to podcasts of the past year on topics such as valuing a ranch, the significance of Colorado’s San Luis Valley, and renewable energy as an asset strategy. Listen.
10. THE NEWS BEAT: Keeping up with developments in the West is a full time job. We were busy on our Guidebook Blog highlighting some of the year’s most interesting stories, including: How western states are responding to foreign ownership of agricultural land; the challenge of balancing wildlife conservation with the skyrocketing increase in outdoor recreation across the region; the improved outlook for cattle operations in 2023 during a year when the weather imperiled efforts to cash in on that trend.
As you can see, the past year was a big one for Mirr Ranch Group, in many ways setting the stage for the big year we have ahead of us. I can’t wait to see what’s next.