Bison ranchers seek permit to host events, recreation south of Steamboat
Lucky 8 Ranch delivered its first grass-fed bison meat to the Community Ag Market at the beginning of August, and next up is a date with the Routt County Planning Commission to consider Lucky 8’s application to provide a wide range of guest services from weddings to bison tours in side-by-side ATVs.
Lucky 8 Ranch, based along Trout Creek on Tobiano Trail off Routt County Road 29, 16.5 miles and 30 minutes south of the west side of Steamboat, is home to a growing herd of 125 bison, but the Osadchuk family, which owns the ranch, is also interested in offering a wide variety of guest services on the 1,164 acres it owns and leases.
Technically, the Lucky 8’s operators are seeking a special use permit from the county under the category of a guest ranch with recreational facilities, although they don’t really describe their future operation as such. They’re also seeking a water body setback, for their activities, along the creek.
Ranch Manager Nick Osadchuk said his family’s primary goal is to play a role in bringing back the North American Bison, which was once on the verge of extinction
“That’s going to be our 100 percent goal out here,” Osadchuk said, “survival of the American bison,” while “farming in a natural way, avoiding the use of chemicals. My main focus of wanting to add to the uses of our ranch is to raise awareness of bison and the beautiful creatures that they are.”
Lucky 8 Ranch is a member of the National Bison Association, which has the goal of raising the population of the bison to a million or more by 2027.
The bison at the ranch graze on grass and are finished for market on grass, Osadchuk added.
The county approval process for the permit involves two public hearings — one by the planning commission with a thorough discussion of the application followed by a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners which will make the final determination.
The activities proposed include: overnight guest visits (that wouldn’t be promoted to the general public), agricultural ranch tours and educational hay rides, sleigh rides, horseback rides, horsemanship clinics and lessons, horse boarding and UTV (four-seater) tours. They all propose snowmobile tours, skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and special events, including weddings, with no more than 200 people.
Asked how the county might evaluate the appropriateness of the wide range of activities proposed by the ranch operators, Assistant County Planning Director Kristy Winser said she anticipates Planning Commission will consider the overall size of the ranch in making that determination.
“This is a unique application, for sure, with what they’re proposing,” Winser said. “It would all fall under the land use category of a guest ranch. It looks like it’s a lot, but part of our review is comparing the proposed use to the overall use of property. Given the overall size of the property, it may support the use.”
Osadchuk said he has contacted all of his neighbors about the ranch’s tentative plans with the exception of a newly arrived household.
The formal application submitted by the ranch operators to the county clarifies that overnight guess will either be family, business clients or hunters. Those guests would be housed in the main house, which has up to 10 in bedrooms, as well as in three cabins and a bunkhouse.
The UTV tours would take guests through the pastures where the bison are grazing at that time. While snowmobile tours would be offered in winter to the general public, skiing on a groomed hill on the ranch, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing would not be offered to the general public and reserved primarily for overnight guests.
The Lucky 8 Ranch website is currently under construction.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It was a terribly dry summer, and all the grass died. What can we do to keep deer, elk and moose alive? Resist the temptation to feed them.