William Harrison, who owns the Cielo Vista Ranch in the San Luis Valley, has asked his attorneys to stop further appeals after 37 years of litigation over access to the ranch land. He expressed a desire to instead find common ground with Costilla County residents.
“My hope is to move away from litigation and into discussions on how we can live together with a common goal to preserve this precious land for generations to come,” Harrison said in a news release. “There are many topics on which we may not agree, but let’s begin to better define the legitimate use of the property so we can heal our rifts.” Harrison inherited the litigation from three previous owners, beginning with lumber magnate Jack Taylor.
The lawsuit, most recently known as Alire v. Cielo Vista ranch, dates back to 1981. Agricultural landowners in Costilla County claimed access to a more than 77,000-acre parcel of land bought by Taylor in 1960, for a time known as Taylor Ranch. The plaintiffs traced ancestral access rights for livestock grazing and timber collection to a document from 1863 that promised settlers free access to a million-acre land grant.
The Colorado Court of Appeals released a decision in the case’s fourth appeal in November. Before the latest appeal, the case had been on remand to the district court from the state Supreme Court from 2004 to 2016.
According to the release, Harrison will restore some gates that allow residents access to the ranch land.
“We all share a common bond in the land and its resources, so I’m hopeful we can start working towards agreements to make our shared resource work for everyone,” he said in the release. “I look forward a new year and a new approach to some very old problems.”