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LDS Church sells Provo River tract to private equity fund

Published May 9, 2013 7:39 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A scenic tract of land on the upper Provo River owned by the LDS Church has been bought by a private equity fund that plans to turn the property into a high-end trout fishery and then sell it to another buyer.

Sporting Ranch Capital Management bought the 204-acre property in Summit and Wasatch counties east of Park City in December from Property Reserve Inc., which manages real estate owned by the Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Terms of the deal weren't announced.

Property Reserve spokesman Dale Bills declined to comment.

The Dallas-based fund said it will invest $1 million in the land to create "an unrivaled fly-fishing ranch by enriching [its] waterways and improving conservation and management of the pristine property."

The property runs along 8,400 feet of both sides of the river. It also contains 8,659 feet of a tributary creek that flows into the river from the north side and 4,367 feet of another creek on the south side, according to the fund's website.

"No project like this has ever been done in the upper Provo River basin," Jay Ellis, the fund's founder, said.

Ellis said the sale closed in December, after just 13 days of negotiations.

"It was just like warp speed," he said Thursday.

The river is a blue ribbon trout fishery, with brown and rainbow trout that often reach 18 inches or bigger. The ranch will have three miles of fishable water, the fund said.

The fund has hired CFI Global, a stream restoration management company, to improve the property's fishery.

"There has never been a river restoration done like this in the Woodland Valley. We are creating the finest fly-fishing ranch in Utah," Ellis said.

Ellis used to work for investment bank Morgan Stanley. He left the bank to start the fund last year.

Ellis said the fund was created to acquire properties in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, New Mexico and Utah "at distressed prices." It already owns 760 acres near Pagosa Springs, Colo.; 160 acres outside Driggs, Idaho; and 518 acres near Chama, N.M.

Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens is one of the fund's investors.

pbeebe@sltrib.com

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