Tim Alpers and his sister Kathleen Hadeler announced this week that the Alpers Owens River Ranch, which has been in the family since 1906, has been sold to a Virginia buyer.
The ranch is located approximately seven miles northeast of Mammoth below Big Springs.
Alpers said it’s become increasingly difficult in recent years to operate viably from a business point-of-view, as State Dept. of Fish and Game regulations and federal water quality regulations have become more onerous.
“We couldn’t keep the ranch hatchery operations profitable,” he said.
“It’s hard for a third generation [owner] to hang on,” he continued. “The first and second generations could make it on sweat equity, but the third generation … needs highly professional capitalized management.”
Sheet Translation: It takes a lot of money to perform the work required to make the government happy.
Tim’s grandfather Fred bought the property from the descendants of the original homesteader, Andrew Thompson, back in 1906. After Fred died in ’46, Tim’s father Bill bought out his brothers and sisters in ’52 and he and his wife Alice ran it jointly until Bill’s death in ’79. Before his father’s death, Tim, who had been working as an Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at the University of Tulsa, had returned to help out his father.
The ranch was sold to the Gottwald family, which hails from Richmond, Virginia. The Gottwalds bought the neighboring Arcularius Ranch back in ’98.
So it’s now private property, open to family, friends and invited guests. No more trout-rearing. No more rental cabins.
Alpers could have sold for more money to development interests, but chose to sell to the Gottwalds because they agreed, as a condition of sale, to keep the ranch as open space.
Completion of the transaction is expected next month.
“We wanted to honor both the land and our ancestry,” he said. “There are just certain places on Earth that should not be developed.”
ALPERS TROUT REMAIN
Don’t fret, anglers. Tim Alpers will still be raising world-famous trout next year. He’ll just be doing it from a different location.
He has leased land from the county and will relocate his hatchery operations to Conway Summit.
As for the man, Tim Alpers was certainly cut from the same cloth as his forebears, and he deserves a lot of credit for persevering for as long as he did.
“It’s a passing of the … “ he began, but he never finished that sentence, and I couldn’t tell whether it was because he got lost in thought or lost in emotion. So he began again. “I’m just beat to death. I can’t walk right. My shoulders dislocate when I sleep … my back’s killing me.” Alpers estimates he’s loaded and unloaded about eight million pounds of cargo over the past 30 years.
And as he looked toward the future, he didn’t see any relief. There was no reasonable retirement/succession plan.
Tim’s older sister Kathleen said she finds the sale both “heart-wrenching and heartbreaking. I will never get over it. Ever.”
“Even though I have a business in Bishop (Dusty’s Pets), I’ve always considered the ranch home. I lived there, worked there, ran cattle there, and took care of my mother there [as she got older].”
Even though the Alpers’ family retains a lifelong invitation to visit the ranch, she says she won’t. “It’s just not the same if it’s not yours.”
She acknowledges that the resort is getting “tired” and needs about a $3-4 million dollar infusion of capital. The resort cabins are anywhere from 70-100 years old. The guess is that some will be refurbished and some will be removed.