Terraqua - Land Investment

The Land Investor

News and Commentary on Land-based Investment

Investing in Recreational Land Adjoining Public Lands….Be careful what you ask for

In perusing ads marketing luxury ranch properties in the west, one could come to the conclusion that the attribute of adjacency to a National Forest is generally a positive property feature.  Adjacency to USFS is frequently described as an enhancement to the desirability of a property.  Images are conjured of having seemingly unlimited forest both as a buffer and to explore; and permanent protection, since the neighboring land is USFS or BLM.

The flip side is, “public” lands are just that – “public”. Oft quoted is the saying, “That which nobody (or the government) owns no one will care for”.   If you own a ranch bordering the National Forest, your property basically adjoins “the commons”.  The devil is in the details, and one really needs to think through a land investment that adjoins an open access resource such as BLM or a national forest.  Bordering public lands you may experience things you didn’t bargain for such as the joy of owning ongoing security issues, particularly during hunting season, degrading adjacent land uses and having what can be layers of bureaucratic government entities as your  “neighbor”.

There are certainly instances where owning land adjoining public lands is a positive attribute.  In many cases grazing permits on adjoining public lands boost the viability and profitability of the base ranching operation.   Also, owners of smaller acreage can leverage their on-property recreational options with direct access to more vast opportunities.

In the case of an investment in larger scale ranchland, good private neighbors are hard to beat; particularly with adjoining ranchlands under conservation easements.  The top land trusts and private landowners do a heck of a better job monitoring private land under easement that the thinly stretched USFS or BLM can manage public lands.

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