Historic OH Ranch Operation Up For Sale – for Sep. 13, 2010

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The iconic OH ranch in Longview has been put up for sale by the estate of the late Doc Seaman. The asking price of $49 million is for the total operation which includes additional OH ranch properties located at Pekisko, Dorothy and Bassano, involving about 20,000 hectares of deeded and leasehold land.

It is expected that the properties will be sold separately with the Bassano location already subject to an $8-million deal, says High River realtor Barry Black.

Interest in the OH properties may also be limited because much of the land is subject to conservation easements designed to preserve the traditional ranchlands. That restricts any development of the land for subdivisions or acreages.

According to Alan Gardner of the Southern Alberta Land Trust Society, which holds the easement on some of the OH land, the land will have to maintain the original fescue ranges and traditional ranching methods. The Nature Conservancy of Canada also holds easements on some of the property.

The 4,000 hectares of grazing lease land was designated a heritage rangeland by the Alberta government in 2008. That protects those public lands from any development including oil and gas drilling.

Mac Blades a rancher who operates south of the OH said that it’s a beautiful place and a good investment, but it will take a lot of money.

Doc Seaman and previous owners took pride in running the ranch as a typical old-time cowboy operation. That meant much of the cow handling and ranching activity was done with cowboys on horseback using minimal mechanization. Capacity for the whole operation was about 2,000 head with much of the cow herd on year-round grazing with minimal feed supplementation. The original cattle herd was commercial crossbreds with Longhorn blood. That quickly developed into a Hereford operation. Over the past 20 years the cattle herd has been based mainly on Red Angus genetics.

The ranch was originally established in 1881 by Lafayette French and Orville Smith at Longview. Their OH brand is one of the two oldest registered brands still in continuous use in Alberta. The legendary Pat Burns even owned the ranch from 1918 to 1950.

Doc Seaman purchased the OH Longview ranch in 1987 for $5 million, saving it from being bought up by the Department of National Defence who wanted to turn it into an army firing range.

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