Ted Turner Ranches Offer Ecotourism Adventures

capture

Aaron Gulley explores how Ted Turner ranches in New Mexico balance conservation, ranching and tourism by restoring fragile land and bringing back native species

In the pre-dawn of a sharp December morning, the house at Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch is still buttoned up and dark for the night, but the surrounding land is teeming. I’ve risen early for a walk, and even though the high-desert meadows are fuzzy charcoal sketches in the wan morning light and wrapped in cords of dissipating cloud, I can make out a group of does grazing, then a scrum of elk filtering across the road. Wild turkeys bawl and scatter as I approach. And when I crest the ridgeline that sits to the north of the ranch house, I can make out bison on the hillside milling like listless linebackers in the Midas light of sunrise. Stretching out before me are 156,439 acres of land in the Black Range of southern New Mexico’s Gila Mountains. Thanks to Ted Turner Expeditions (TTX), the latest venture from the famously brash billionaire philanthropist, it’s all mine for a few days.

In the pre-dawn of a sharp December morning, the house at Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch is still buttoned up and dark for the night, but the surrounding land is teeming. I’ve risen early for a walk, and even though the high-desert meadows are fuzzy charcoal sketches in the wan morning light and wrapped in cords of dissipating cloud, I can make out a group of does grazing, then a scrum of elk filtering across the road. Wild turkeys bawl and scatter as I approach. And when I crest the ridgeline that sits to the north of the ranch house, I can make out bison on the hillside milling like listless linebackers in the Midas light of sunrise. Stretching out before me are 156,439 acres of land in the Black Range of southern New Mexico’s Gila Mountains. Thanks to Ted Turner Expeditions (TTX), the latest venture from the famously brash billionaire philanthropist, it’s all mine for a few days.

“It is one of the finest examples of wildlife diversity in the state,” says Steve Dobrott, the wildlife biologist-turned-ranch manager who for 24 years has helped Turner restore the Ladder to its natural state. “There’s nowhere else you can go to see open spaces like this — except for his other properties. They’re like national parks, without all the people.” Dobrott tells the story of driving from the Ladder, the smallest of the three New Mexico ranches, to another of Turner’s properties in Montana, a route that passes through Yellowstone National Park, and the only wildlife he saw on the weeklong round trip was behind Turner’s private gates at both ends.

Click here for the full Dorado Magazine article.