Skiing with Sheep: A Baah-Ffling Tale: How Recreation and Agriculture Can Work Together to Find Profit in the Same Land

By Gordon, Kindra | Parks & Recreation, November 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Skiing with Sheep: A Baah-Ffling Tale: How Recreation and Agriculture Can Work Together to Find Profit in the Same Land


Gordon, Kindra, Parks & Recreation


It's been an all too common occurrence: Usually when development for housing or recreation moves in, it is at the expense of agriculture, which is forced to move out.

But near Park City, Utah, Steve Osguthorpe and his family have worked with developers to maintain their sheep operation and make it compatible with the nearby ski resort--The Canyons--which has grown to be North America's fifth largest ski area.

As one would expect, snow skiing is the primary activity on the mountainous land during the winter months, but in the summer and fall, nearly 3,000 sheep graze the grassy ski runs and resort lands--even while tourists enjoy the scenic beauty of the area.

"Recreation and agriculture can be compatible," says Osguthorpe of the unique arrangement. He reports that it's been a win-win situation for his family farm and for the resort.

"The developers of the resort wanted to keep the area natural, and visitors really seem to enjoy seeing the sheep out grazing," he says. Keeping agricultural use on the land has also helped the resort keep its taxes lower.

For the Osguthorpe family, the arrangement has meant they can stay on the ranch that Steve's father first established in the late 1940s. As another benefit, Osguthorpe says, "It's an opportunity to show the public that we ranchers are stewards of the land and want to take care of it better than anyone else."

A Long History of Stewardship

Of the region that now attracts more than 500,000 visitors each year, Osguthorpe admits many people might have sold their ranch and moved to a less touristy area, but he says his family has made the decision to stay. He tells the story of his father, Dr. D. A. Osguthorpe, who graduated as a veterinarian from Colorado State University in 1943, and had the foresight to see that Park City would likely to be a resort town someday.

"From his experience in Colorado, he saw places like Estes Park and recognized the potential in Utah. When he came to Park City, he was the vet for horses used in the mines, and eventually he was able to buy seven ranches around Park City from 1945 to 1951," Osguthorpe says. "My dad always knew the potential of the area for recreation development."

In the early years, agriculture was the primary land used and the Osguthorpe family operated a dairy. Steve added sheep to the farm when he was in junior high. After college, Steve returned to the family farm, married a local Park City girl in the 1970s, and they continued to operate the farm as they raise six sons and one daughter.

However, by the late 1980s, Park City began to develop around them. When the road needed to be widened, the Osguthorpe's 200 head dairy was taken through a process called condemnation. That means that the government can take private land for public use, if they pay a fair price. Then, through the same process, 40 acres of their land was taken for a middle school. "We haven't sold any ground, it's been taken through condemnation." says Osguthorpe.

Eventually, the Osguthorpes relocated their farm headquarters to the town of Delta 140 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Today, this ranch serves as their winter location, where they also operate a feedlot for cattle and their Columbia- Rambouilet crossbred sheep. But in the summer months, livestock still graze up near Park City on Forest Service permits and on the Osguthorpe land the ski resort now has access to through an easement.

"Our family made the decision if we were going to farm and ranch here, we had to get involved in recreation, or else sell out and leave," Osguthorpe adds.

Making It Work

Despite the changing of the times from agricultural to development uses, the Osguthorpes have found ways to make the multiple land uses work.

First established as a small ski area, the resort that neighbored their land was bought out by the American Skiing Company and renamed The Canyons about eight years ago.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Skiing with Sheep: A Baah-Ffling Tale: How Recreation and Agriculture Can Work Together to Find Profit in the Same Land
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?