Circle Ranch Open Gate Day, August 26, 2016


On August 26, 2016, Holistic Management International (HMI) held an Open Gate educational day at Circle Ranch in far-West Texas. We demonstrated desert grassland restoration using ‘Plug and Spread’ water harvesting from eroded gullies, and Keyline contour plowing.


Circle Ranch Open Gate, August 26, 2016 from Christopher Gill on Vimeo.

Ranching, wildlife management, finance, oil & gas, real estate development and management.
  • Hey Chris, thanks for everything you guys have published – the videos have been incredibly helpful.

    Had a question for you – curious if there are any rules of thumb (or primary factors) for evaluating one ranch property vs another, in terms of potential for restoration and carbon sequestration?

    I’ve looked around for literature on the subject but haven’t been able to find anything.



    Dear David,

    Thank you so much for your kind words; I’m very pleased to learn that the videos are helping you.

    With respect to how to choose land for restoration through carbon sequestration: I think the creosote flats of far-West Texas and Southern New Mexico are ideal. This is because you can drive tractors and plows right through the growth. Think about trying to do this in South Texas where everything is covered in 6-inch caliper (or larger) Mesquite and Juniper. No way to get equipment through this. Another point – stay out of rocks!

    Another factor is cost per acre. The creosote flats of far-West Texas are considered economically worthless and physiologically irreparable. So you can buy them for nothing, less than $100 per acre. Treat them for $20 per acre and presto-magico you have hunting and cattle country.

    80% of the profit from ranch ownership is in the appreciation of land realized upon sale to an amenity user. So look for property with what real estate folks call “romance”: Try to combine flats with scenic uplands. Do nothing that does not add “romance”.

    In my opinion restoration of creosote flats under these concepts of restoration ecology and real estate marketing offers a viable and scalable business model.

    You are correct that there is no literature on this: the conservation/wildlife/public land agencies and the universities are interdependent with the big agrochemical/agricultural companies who know very little about real estate. These practices (cattle-water harvesting-Keyline-pushing biodiversity of prey & predators) don’t cost enough to justify big “management” budgets, don’t involve use of chemicals and reject invasive species biology and its plant and animal eradications. So, the ‘experts’ are, with a few welcome exceptions, negative to these ideas.

    Thanks again for taking the trouble to write. Come out and see what we are doing.

    Chris Gill

  • Thanks for your note Chris (and nice to meet the rest of you). I’m in Austin about once a month (I’m based in California), so will have to come visit on my next trip out there.

    All-in cost/acre (land + restoration, with maneuverability on property being a big driver) makes a lot of sense as a primary method of selecting land.

    If you were looking at two properties with hypothetically the same topography and types of growth, is there any further testing (ie soil organic matter) you’d do to choose between them?



    Dear David,

    These are real estate deals so just look at lots of ranches; you’ll know which you like best. I consider those soil tests to be of doubtful validity in the selection process, because whatever you buy can be improved: Be sure you only pay for what you get, and, don’t pay the seller for what you plan to do.

    Circle is 100-mile east of El Paso on IH 10. There are some great properties available out there, it’s a conversation not a memo. Call me anytime, mobile is best.


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