In a surprise development, Zachary Taylor, owner of the controversial 121-square-mile Taylor Ranch in southern Colorado's San Luis Valley, sold one-third of the property to an undisclosed buyer in early August.


Since 1993, the state of Colorado and some valley groups have looked for money to purchase the ranch, which Taylor has been intensively logging (HCN, 6/9/97). The state expects a completed appraisal this month.


"We are disappointed that not all the property is still available," said Tom Kenyon, Colorado's assistant director of state parks. But he said the two-thirds remaining should still contain "significant natural resources' and sell at a more reasonable price. The parcel sold did not include one of the state's 54 "fourteeners," 14,069-foot Culebra Peak.


Taylor initially asked $30 million for the ranch's full 77,0000 acres but dropped his price to $20 million because of growing controversy. Since 1960, the property has been the center of an environmental and cultural dispute involving Mexican land grant claims. This month, a 37-year-old lawsuit based on those claims is expected to be heard in local courts. - Peter McBride