Deal in works for Incline’s Ponderosa Ranch
Stating that it’s the reality of doing business in the Tahoe Basin, Ponderosa Ranch President David Geddes announced that the company was looking at selling the 548-acre property to a coalition of government agencies.
The announcement was made at Wednesday’s meeting of the Incline Village General Improvement District’s Board of Trustees.
Terra Firma, a Minden based consulting firm was contracted by the ranch to study the probability of making a deal. The firm contacted the U.S. Forest Service, the Nevada Department of Conservation, the Nevada Department of Transportation, Washoe County, IVGID and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
“We have looked at development options for the property, but because of the tremendous potential benefits to the public, we feel that we should first give these agencies an opportunity to propose a viable option to development,” Geddes said.
The ranch, which opened in 1968, was inspired by the hit television show “Bonanza,” which premiered in 1959.
The TV western concerned the trials and tribulations of the Cartwright family who lived on the fictitious Ponderosa Ranch, located on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe.
The show was one of the early color broadcasts and producers took advantage of the lake’s beauty, and shot several exterior scenes in the Incline area during the run of the show.
Early Incline resident Bill Anderson, who allowed Paramount Studios to film on his property, realized that the show’s popularity could be an economical benefit and built the ranch house and western town as a tourist attraction.
In 1994, the ranch was gifted to Anderson’s children Royce , Julliane and Julliane’s husband David Geddes.
Terra Firma owners Jacques Etchegoyhen and Glen Williams said that they are thrilled to be involved in the deal.
“It’s a sublime pleasure for us to be part of what could be a great benefit to the entire community,” Etchegoyhen said.
“We’re looking at opening a beautiful piece of property for the enjoyment of everyone who treasures the natural beauty of the area,” William’s said. “This would be an opportunity for these government agencies to have a place to put their conservation practices to work.”
Williams also feels that the community could use one feature of the ranch to cut down pollution and traffic during high tourist seasons.
“The ranch has a nine-acre parking lot that can be used as a shuttle park-and-ride area, connecting Sand Harbor, Spooner Lake and other attractions in the area, or as a boat trailer area,” Williams said. “The property also has access to the Rim Trail and the Flume Trail and during the winter, it could serve as a feeder area for Diamond Peak and Mt. Rose Ski Resorts.”
The partners said that they are trying to find a situation where most of the current structures could remain and be part of the project.
“We realize the significance of the buildings, especially the ranch house, to American culture,” Williams said. “It’s one of the most recognized homes in the world. So, we hope to retain and utilize he structures in the new plan.”
“The list of potential benefits just goes on and on,” said ranch co-owner Royce Anderson. “The combination of environmental benefits that will have a measurable impact on the clarity of Lake Tahoe, alongside the multitude of public benefits for the north shore of Lake Tahoe, make this a truly unique conservation opportunity.”
IVGID General Manager Bill Horn said that the district will look to do its part in any dealings on the ranch.
“We’d like to work with the agencies involved to facilitate any benefit to the environment and the future land use of Incline,” Horn said.
William’s said that Terra Firma would do everything it could to effect a multi-agency deal that all the involved parties are hoping for, but if a deal can’t be worked out, “We’ll have to look at the last option of selling the land to developers.”
Geddes wants to make sure that everyone knows that it is business as usual at the Ponderosa, which opens April 17.
“This is by no means a done deal,” Geddes said. “We are gearing up for the coming season as usual, hiring employees and fixing up attractions. Nothing’s changed in that respect. We have a ranch to run.”
The ranch attracts about 400,000 visitors a year from all over the world and stays open until October.
“We saw an opportunity where the ranch could go on as a benefit to the community and had to explore the possibility,” Geddes said. “The ranch is an American institution and we want it to remain that way.”