The Crestone Eagle, July 2003:

Sale of Baca Ranch postponed again
by David Nicholas

Citing delays due to continuing legal matters, Steve Chaney, Superintendent of the Great Sand Dunes National Monument and Preserve, announced that the new date for the sale of the Baca Ranch from Vaca partners to the Nature Conservancy is now March 31, 2004. The sale of the Baca Ranch completes the process for the new National Park designated by Congress in October 2000.

Speaking at the first Crestone meeting of the newly created Advisory Council for the Great Sand Dunes National Park, June 26, Chaney said that American Water Development, Inc (AWDI) was still seeking appeal avenues against the judgment handed down by Judge O. John Kuenhold earlier this year. The judgment upheld a binding arbitration decision made in 2003, awarding AWDI $694,000 for their 10% interest in Cabeza de Vaca Land & Cattle Company, a holding company for assorted partners interested in exporting water from under the Baca Ranch. The judgment also required that AWDI, which holds a lien note on the ranch, withdraw the lien so the sale of the Baca Ranch to the Nature Conservancy could be completed.

Chaney said that the remaining partner with legal issues against the Cabeza partnership, Peter Hornick, was set to have his case heard sometime in October this year.

When asked what pressures this would place on the sale of the ranch, given the high interest loans made by the Nature Conservancy to raise the needed finance to purchase the ranch, Chaney replied that actually, if anything, this would ease it. Of the $31.1 million purchase price, the Federal Government has paid approximately $20 million to the Conservancy. Chaney also said, that the remaining money will likely be allocated in the 2004 Federal Budget.

The $4 million promised by Yale University for its 50% interest in Vaca Partners would probably occur after the sale, Chaney said.

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