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Large Montana ranch sold to subsidiary of Montana resort

July 10, 2021 GMT
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A road leading into the Crazy Mountain Ranch is seen on July 6, 2021, near Clyde Park, Mont. A subsidiary of the company that owns a luxury Montana resort has bought the 18,000-acre (7,300 hectare) ranch in south central Montana. (Rachel Leathe/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP)
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A road leading into the Crazy Mountain Ranch is seen on July 6, 2021, near Clyde Park, Mont. A subsidiary of the company that owns a luxury Montana resort has bought the 18,000-acre (7,300 hectare) ranch in south central Montana. (Rachel Leathe/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP)

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A subsidiary of the company that owns the Yellowstone Club bought an 18,000-acre ranch at the foot of the Crazy Mountains east of Clyde Park, and said they have no plans to develop or change the property.

The Lone Mountain Land Company announced the purchase of the Crazy Mountain Ranch last week.

The company said in an announcement it has no plans to develop residential subdivisions or a commercial heliskiing operation on the property.

“Lone Mountain Land Company will continue to operate the ranch’s cow-calf operation and guest ranch,” said Sam Byrne, Managing Partner and Co-Founder at CrossHarbor Capital Partners in a release.

“We look forward to working with our neighbors, the Clyde Park community, and the Forest Service to be thoughtful stewards of the land and good members of the community.”

Both the potential of residential developments and a heliskiing operation has caused a measure of public concern ahead of the sale, said Erica Lighthiser, the deputy director with the Park County Environmental Council and member of the Crazy Mountain Access Project, told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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That portion of Park County isn’t zoned, Lighthiser said, leaving any future developments to the sole discretion of the new owners.

“Especially with this group and their connections to CrossHarbor, the biggest concern is a major development at the foot of the Crazies,” Lighthiser said.

The property will be managed by CrossHarbor Capital Partners’ subsidiary Lone Mountain Land Company, which is based in Big Sky and manages several resorts there.

CrossHarbor is a Boston-based real estate investment firm that owns the Yellowstone Club, and co-owns Moonlight Basin, the Spanish Peaks Mountain Club and the Montage Big Sky, an ultra-luxury resort set to open in Big Sky in December.

The Crazy Mountain Ranch, which is known locally as the Marlboro Ranch, was previously owned by the tobacco company Phillip Morris U.S.A., Inc. The tobacco company ran it for about two decades as a commercial guest ranch for adult smokers.

Of some 20 buildings, the guest ranch included a saloon, events barn, spa and hotel rooms.

At peak season the ranch can employ about 100 people.

“Due to COVID-19, the ranch has not employed most of the guest ranch employees, and Lone Mountain Land Company looks forward to resuming operations,” the news release stated.

Lone Mountain has retained 13 full-time employees with plans to hire more staffers, according to the release.

The ranch was recently in the public eye over a controversial land exchange proposed with the Forest Service.

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Several sections of the ranches’ land that lie within the boundary of the Custer Gallatin National Forest were to be exchanged with low-lying Forest Service land. But conservation and hunters’ groups raised concerns that the Forest Service was giving up publicly accessible elk habitat.

The exchange was pulled in December. At the time, the Forest Service said the deal wasn’t necessarily dead and that it might consider the exchange again.

A spokesperson with Lone Mountain declined to answer questions about whether the new owners planned to revive the land swap and whether there were any intentions of placing conservation easements on the ranch. The spokesperson also declined to say how much CrossHarbor paid for the ranch.

Lighthiser said she was optimistic about the sale and that the change in ownership may open new avenues for conservation.

“I do feel encouraged. They had said they have no plans for heliskiing and no plans for residential development — that was a good indication that they’re listening to public concern,” she said.