Mining mogul buys Montana ranch famed for conservation

Sun Ranch bought by Richard C. Adkerson, CEO of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold-

Mining exec buys Sun Ranch. By Daniel Person. Bozeman Daily Chronicle.



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  1. Mike Avatar

    That can’t be good…..

  2. Salle Avatar

    Well, it will be interesting to see whether he honors the conservation easements and maintains them in the future. But then, mining isn’t any small thing in that region so it remains to be seen what he may or may not do about changing the rules… As you may well know that the SCOTUS says… “The more money you have, the more voice you have”…

  3. JimT Avatar


    It will depend on how the easements were structured. They should be attached to the deed so they run in perpetuity no matter who owns the ranch, and there usually is a land trust or some non profit who actually holds the easement and is charged with the monitoring of the easement’s provisions for compliance, and if need be, enforcement.

    I think most of the rich moguls who despoil the wild places tend to not want to crap in their own backyard, so to speak, so they tend to leave those areas alone. Sort of the same principle used for using a crate for housetraining a puppy…they tend not to pee and crap where they sleep…~S~

  4. jimbob Avatar

    Oh sweet irony….if he chooses not to mine it, that would be both ironic and hypocritical. If he chooses to mine it, the irony is in a once conserved ranch falling into the hands of mining. Other irony would be in how close he chose to live to any mining.

  5. mikepost Avatar

    Conservation easements are enforceable against new owners HOWEVER most of the outfits that hold the easements are woefully underfunded for the legal defense of the easements they hold. Within the last few years some foundations have been requiring the easement seller to also make a contribution to a legal defense fund, like $10,000 per easement for example, which is then pooled and invested for potential situations like this. I have not yet seen the David (foundation) vs Goliath (Adkerson) type of legal conflict yet but most of these easements are still first generation or current owner. What happens when someone throws a few million in legal expenses at one of these easement holders will be anyone’s guess.

  6. JimT Avatar

    MP, maybe my experience with land trusts back East is a different animal than the West. Due to size, maybe? The groups usually have few issues with enforcement, usually with cutting for views, or an effort to come back and alter the covenant to accommodate a child’s wish to build a home. I also think there is some access to state AG help, but usually it gets worked out without litigation. If the drafters of the covenant are wise, there is a provision that allows the covenant to be revoked, penalties to be imposed, and all the tax benefits to be paid back to the state. Usually it is a wise financial decision for the landowner to comply rather than lose those tax advantages, pay penalties, etc.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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