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University of Wyoming, Colorado State foundations prepare to put Y Cross Ranch back on market

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CHEYENNE, Wyoming — A large ranch jointly owned by the University of Wyoming Foundation and Colorado State University Research Foundation will go back on the real estate market after the schools failed to reach an agreement with representatives of the previous owner not to sell.

Proceeds from the sale of the 50,000-acre Y Cross Ranch will be split between the two universities and go toward endowments for agriculture scholarships and internships, the schools announced Wednesday. The ranch is located between Cheyenne and Laramie.

The scholarships and internships will honor the intent of the original gift of the ranch, university officials said.

"We haven't really looked at how money might be parsed out. But it's a wonderful gift and it will be used to support students, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, as well faculty activities related to that," UW College of Agriculture Dean Frank Galey said.

The Y Cross sprawls over a scenic and barely developed expanse of granite outcrops, meadows and forests. The property easily could fetch several million dollars regardless of a Nature Conservancy conservation easement that shields the ranch from substantial new development.

The schools were preparing to sell the Y Cross in 2012 when Amy Davis, a wealthy Denver philanthropist who donated the ranch to them in 1997, sued. Davis argued that selling would violate her intent that the ranch serve as a field classroom for agriculture students.

Last year, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled that Davis lacked standing to sue. She died six weeks later, but her will provided for a "considerable amount" of her estate to serve as an incentive for the universities to keep the ranch, according to her attorneys.

Even so, the two sides didn't agree on how to retain the ranch as university property.

"Both universities negotiated in good faith for several months," UW Foundation President Ben Blalock said. "In the end, we just could not reach a mutually acceptable agreement."

Davis attorney Steve A. Miller, of Denver, didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

The sale will proceed "under a typical ranch sale process," according to a University of Wyoming and Colorado State University joint news release.

Specific information about that process, including whether the property has been appraised recently, weren't available. University officials referred questions about the process to the broker, Ranch Marketing Associates of Johnstown, Colorado, which didn't immediately return a phone message Wednesday.


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