Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Beartooth Capital restores, sells large Western ranches

Beartooth Capital is selling feel-good investment opportunities with a sporting, environmental bent. It doesn’t hurt that beautiful color photos of streams winding through tall grass, trout caught on a fly rod and vistas of blue mountains and green meadows are splashed across the firm’s promotional material, which looks and reads like a travel brochure. Beartooth Capital buys ranches, improves the properties in a variety of ways. then sells them. Investors share in the profits from the sales and other ventures the company conducts while it still owns the properties. “It’s a great way to make some money, and a fairly low-risk way to make money compared to the rest of the investment world,” said Robert Keith, 37, a co-founder of Beartooth Capital. “Most of our investors are more heavily invested in riskier investments.” Keith noted that his company isn’t doing anything new. Landowners have long restored habitat for wildlife, improved the sprinkler system to save water or updated the ranch house. The difference is that many of those owners probably don’t intend to flip their property for a profit. Working with local and national conservation groups and state and federal land management agencies, the company has also created conservation easements to ensure that landscapes are protected long after the ranch is sold. Even after Beartooth Capital sells, their former properties are still producing benefits for wildlife, many of which carry over to the public realm, said Mike Mansfield, the ranch recreation manager for Beartooth. Stream restoration, for example, provides more spawning habitat for river fish. A conservation easement that ensures that elk calving grounds are never developed means generations of elk have a place. Beartooth Capital was created by Keith and fellow “enviropreneur” Robert Palmer in 2005. They came up with the name in honor of the Beartooth Mountains that rise just north of Keith’s parents’ ranch west of Cody. The Bozeman-based company now employs 12 people, not counting ranch managers...more

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