Proposal seeks fund for Colorado ranch

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Navajo Nation

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking an enterprise fund to help manage the ranch the tribe purchased this fall.

The tribe purchased Wolf Springs Ranch, a 16,350-acre ranch in south central Colorado, for $23 million in October.

The purchase included two houses, four cabins and stables as well as facilities to train horses and to tag and vaccinate livestock, according to a July 26 press release from the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President.

A bill proposing the establishment of the enterprise fund was posted Dec. 18 on the website for the Navajo Nation Council.

Under the proposal, the enterprise fund would be used by the fish and wildlife department to carry out its mandated responsibilities to manage, conserve and protect fish, wildlife, agricultural products and plant resources at the ranch.

Revenue for the fund would be collected from hunting, fishing, agricultural production and other activities conducted at the ranch.

Expenditures from the fund would cover salaries, payroll taxes, fringe benefits, vehicles, per diems, personnel travel expenses and other operational expenses, according to the proposal.

While plans for the ranch have not been publicly outlined, tribal President Russell Begaye said in the July 26 press release that certain areas of the ranch have potential for development.

Karis Begaye, legal counsel for the president's office, said in an email on Dec. 22 the proposal is key to fund operations and permanent staff at the ranch.

While there are no personnel from the fish and wildlife department living at the ranch yet, they travel to the location when necessary, she wrote.

"We will house four staff at the ranch once the plan is approved," Begaye wrote.

The purchase in October included transferring ownership of approximately 200 head of cattle and more than 300 bison.

Begaye said five employees from the department worked with the bison last week.

The bill was assigned to the Resources and Development Committee and to the Budget and Finance Committee, where final authority rests.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at