Ted Turner plans ‘ecoagriculture’ institute on Nebraska ranch | State and Regional News
“That would be painful,” said State Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, had Turner’s ranches fallen off the tax rolls.
Turner, on his three ranches in Sheridan County, paid $459,240 in property taxes last year.
Brewer said that many locals see Turner’s big, corporate spreads — 445,000 acres of land alone in Nebraska — as representative of what’s happening to many ranches in the Sand Hills: They consolidate, reducing the number of families in an area, and reducing the vitality of nearby communities.
“Their fear is that the regular ma and pa ranches won’t hardly exist anymore,” Brewer said.
Former State Sen. Al Davis, whose Hyannis ranch abuts one of Turner’s bison ranches, said he hears concerns, too, including that Turner was buying ranches with the best groundwater resources in the state. But, he said that Turner is misunderstood in a lot of ways as well, despite his donations to local schools and attention his ranch hands take in keeping his bison from escaping into neighboring cattle herds.
“They look at his wealth, that he’s not from here, that he’s got buffalo and not cattle, and he’s got the big fences,” Davis said, referring to the higher fences needed to corral bison. “He’s a pretty good neighbor in a lot of ways.”
Davis said the only potential problem is that the management of the ranches now will change, from a ranch manager to a board of directors. Such a board might decide someday to file for a property tax exemption, he said. Though, Davis added, it would be hard to get a tax break as a nonprofit if they’re earning income from raising bison.