TV mogul Ted Turner buys buffalo ranch in Osage County

Thursday, November 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

He's one of America's richest men - and one of country's largest landowners. And now he's planted a stake in Osage County, near Pawhuska. News on Six reporter Emory Bryan has the story.

There have always been signs of money in Pawhuska - most of it from the cattle and oil business. But people are beginning to talk about the new money in town - money invested in tallgrass - and bluestem. "Hi, I'm looking for Ted Turner...” The county clerk's office - like every place in town - has heard the rumor that Ted Turner bought a ranch - but they actually have the proof. There's nothing filed under Turner's name - but a lot under the name of a company acting on his behalf. Toby Bighorse, County Clerk: "One two three and four..."Turner's bought nearly 39,000 acres - for more than $15 million. Bighorse: "One of the biggest sales we've had in a long time, years."

Ted Turner - the media giant behind CNN and Turner Broadcasting - bought the land to add to his nearly two million acres of ranchland. His Osage county ranch is larger than the nearby Tallgrass Prairie Preserve owned by the Nature Conservancy. They run buffalo on their land - and so will Turner. Both came to Osage County because for the native prairie grasses perfect for raising bison. Turner's land manager says they'll raise 3,000-4,000 bison calves at a time on this property. They'll then be shipped to other Turner ranches around the country. One of their goals is preservation, both the land and the species, but they also have to make a profit.

Blackie Ricketts, Pawhuska City Manager: "Hopefully he'll be a tremendous asset to Pawhuska." And city leaders in Pawhuska admit - they're all watching for any sign of Ted. Ricketts: "No I haven't seen him, I have heard he was in town last week." Turner's invisible but his ranch is hard to miss - situated between Pawhuska and Fairfax, south of Highway 60.

The Drummond's - a prominent ranching family - sold the land - that will become part of Turner's new network - of ranches.

Despite the huge purchase, Turner isn't even close to being the largest landowner in the county. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints owns a much larger tract - about 130,000 acres.