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The Stafford family sold the 30,655 acre property to Nuveen Natural Capital

PHOTO COURTESY FAY RANCHES  - The Foley Butte Ranch sale included 30,655 acres, about 7,000 in Jefferson County, the balance in Crook County. The Stafford family sold the ranch this week for $27 million.

The Stafford Family has sold the 30,655-acre Foley Butte Ranch for $27 million to Nuveen Natural Capital, a land-focused asset management platform.

Michael, Milton, Mark and Samuel Stafford purchased the property north of Prineville in 2014 for $18.5 million from the Ochoco Lumber Company. Stafford Ranches, LLC is headquartered in Prineville. Approximately 7,000 acres of the parcel are in Jefferson County and 23,000 acres in Crook County. At the time of the original purchase, Michael Stafford said the brothers bought the property for their family and planned to use it for hunting and other recreation. The buyers see the purchase as a long-term investment for revenue, financial appreciation and environmental conservation.

"We are excited about these lands for the many opportunities they represent," said Mark Morgans with Nuveen Natural Capital, "from the perspective of a working forest/ranch, environmental enhancements and conservation."

PHOTO COURTESY FAY RANCHES - The Stafford family bought the property in 2014 for their family, for hunting and recreation. The new owners plan to manage the property as an investment for pension plans, with an eye toward environmental protection and conservation. Nuveen manages $9.4 billion in assets in 3 million acres across 600 properties in 10 countries. Morgans is the managing director of Nuveen's U.S. forest operations. "We manage real assets with the idea that we'll own them for an extended period of time and generate revenue to pay participants' pension funds." Companies like Nuveen provide opportunities for people who want to invest their pension based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. Investopedia describes ESG criteria this way: how a company safeguards the environment; social refers to how the company manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers and communities; governance reflects a company's leadership, executive pay, internal controls, and shareholder rights. Morgans says several of the company's resource managers will soon convene at the Foley Butte property to evaluate its potential and how to manage the ranch. "We'll look at unique features like the fish stream," said Morgans. "Can we enhance the habitat of the fish stream by improving shade?" Morgans says the property in in excellent condition. The Staffords still have cattle on the ranch, and Nuveen will allow them to stay through the current grazing season. Real estate agent Jerry Hicks, who orchestrated the sale, says the new owner won't make many changes. "From the outside looking in, there won't be much change."

The Pioneer could not reach the Stafford brothers for comment.

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