While contracts used for the purchase or sale of ranch and real estate properties can be cumbersome and difficult to understand, we have streamlined the process by employing contracts approved specifically by State licensing authorities and designed by legal council tasked with protecting the public in their acquisition of desired properties.
Our experience comes from owning some of the first and best land homesteaded in the West. For over a hundred years, our ranches have weathered two world wars, the Great Depression and more recently the "Not So Great Depression." While the livestock operations are slowly being phased out, the land is the same as it has been for thousands of years - pristine, beautiful and surrounded by thousands of acres which are pledged to never be developed. Wildlife herds continue to abound due to careful game management plans. Its not unusual to wake up to find hundreds of deer grazing in the valleys below your cabin. If you're patient and careful, it may be the first time you will see animals you've never seen before.
We're also happy to shepherd you through the process of acquiring water rights, wells, building permits, and even to build the cabin or lodge of your dreams - large or small - our mission is to make your owning of your new ranch property the best experience of your life!
The Division of Water Rights is the state agency that regulates the appropriation and distribution of water in the state of Utah. It is an office of public record for information pertaining to water rights, excepting that related to water right ownership. The office of public record for water right ownership is the county recorder’s office for the county(ies) in which the water is diverted. All official and publicly accessible water right records are available in the Salt Lake City office or from this site. Region Offices outside Salt Lake City will also have copies of most records for the areas they administer.
The Utah pioneers, in the late 1840's, were the first Anglo-Saxons to practice irrigation on an extensive scale in the United States. Being a desert, Utah contained much more cultivable land than could be watered from the incoming mountain streams. The principle was established that those who first made beneficial use of water should be entitled to continued use in preference to those who came later. This fundamental principal was later sanctioned in law, and is known as the Doctrine of Prior Appropriation. This means those holding water rights with the earliest priority dates, and who have continued beneficial use of the water, have the right to water from a certain source before others with water rights having later priority dates.
In the early territorial days, rights to the use of public streams of water were acquired by physical diversion and application of water to beneficial use, or by legislative grant. A "county courts" water allocation system was enacted in 1852 and was in effect until 1880 when it was replaced by a statute providing for county water commissioners.
The Office of the State Engineer was created in 1897. The State Engineer is the chief water rights administrative officer. A complete "water code" was enacted in 1903 and was revised and reenacted in 1919. This law, with succeeding complete reenactments and amendments is presently in force mostly as Utah Code, Title 73. In 1967 the name of the Office of the State Engineer was changed to the Division of Water Rights with the State Engineer designated as the Director, but the public sometimes still refers to the Division as the State Engineer's Office.
All waters in Utah are public property. A “water right” is a right to divert (remove from its natural source) and beneficially use water. The defining elements of a typical water right will include:
Rights for water diversion and use established prior to 1903 for surface water or prior to1935 for ground water can be established by filing a “diligence claim” with the Division. Such claims are subject to public notice and judicial review and may be barred by court decree in some areas of the state.
All other rights to the use of water in the State of Utah must be established through the appropriation process administered by the Division of Water Rights. The steps to this process for an “Application to Appropriate Water” are as follows:
Many areas of the state are administratively “closed” to new appropriations of water. In those areas, new diversions and uses of water are established by the modification of existing water rights. Such modifications are accomplished by the filing of “change applications.” These applications are filed and processed in a manner very similar to that described above for Applications to Appropriate Water.
Water appropriation issues in specific geographic areas of the state are often administered using policies and guidelines designed to address local conditions. These policies and guidelines are generally developed for all or part of a defined Drainage Basin.
While all this may sound complicated, we will be happy to help you in acquiring the water rights necessary to accomplish you purposes on the land you choose.