RSL Ranch, LLLP is the current incarnation of a 134 year old, seven generation in the works, ranching/farming tradition. The ranch was homesteaded in the Montezuma Valley in 1874 by H.H. Ritter, a Civil War veteran and the great-great grandfather of Richard Lee, the present managing general partner of RSL (Ritter/Schlegel/Lee) Ranch. RSL is a Colorado Centennial Farm as recognized by the Colorado Historical Society.
Through the generations land was acquired to support and build a range sheep operation, later cattle operation and still later custom pasture, timber management and recreational pursuits. Our family was born into the western pioneering tradition of self sufficiency and taking control of one’s environment as required by the times and our remote location.
Another tradition passed on was to always keep the land in the family.
At one time I would never have considered ceding over any form of control such as a conservation easement, but, as they say, “the times they are a changing.”Pressures of all forms, economic, cultural, public and personal have combined to make continuing in the historic manner of the past and to honor the “keep it in the family” requirement more difficult.
As I’m sure is the case with many multigenerational farm and ranch operations, we are “land rich” but “cash poor.”
I cannot, however, bring myself to even consider breaking up and/or selling what I view as a family legacy that could never be replaced. Sometimes certain things transcend monetary issues or what might seem the most logical course at a given point in time.
Some of our children have expressed an interest in continuing the current uses and one is actively phasing into part of the operation. Times were when an agricultural related operation on even the smaller end of the scale could support the needs of more than one family. That, of course, has changed. In order to set up a mechanism to ensure the survival of the Ranch in its entirety and preserve the character of the land and family traditions, strategies and tools that would be foreign to previous generations are now going to have to be employed. This conservation easement is, I believe, one such device.
Hopefully, the easement will enable the flexibility of economics to help future generations maintain the land in its historic use and form.
It will be a tool to possibly eliminate many temptations and pitfalls that can run concurrently with land ownership and life. It is our intention to encourage and enable good stewardship and preservation of an increasingly rare legacy with both public and private aspects for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.