Morgan Taylor/ Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – The Muscogee Nation has recently acquired a 5,570-acre ranch just east of Okmulgee located in Okmulgee County. The purchase is the largest known land acquisition by the Nation.
According to Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Trent Kissee, the ranch was once part of a bigger ranch that is somewhat historic to this area.
According to Kissee, the Dillingham Ranch was nearly 12,000 acres before it was divided in half and sold. One half sold to the Stephens family, who has operated the ranch for about ten years.
Kissee said the family put it up for sale due to looking to purchase land closer to home in Guymon.
“We went and looked at it initially,” he said. “The Nation has been sort of curious and interested in large tracts before to grow our land base, growing our business side through service or economic development, food security, and trying to expand our options.”
Even though there was prior interest in purchasing large land tracts, Kissee claimed nothing seemed to be the right fit for the Nation until recently.
“This one is right here close to the headquarters, it borders the Okmulgee Airport, its right here in town, it’s all contiguous,” Kissee said. “It just kind of worked to where there was enough interest and the timing was right.”
According to Kissee, the Stephens family is slowly moving out and the Nation is slowly moving in with a few MCN-owned cattle already making the Looped Square Ranch their home.
He claimed the Stephens family has been operating an average 1,100 of cow and calf pairs.
“We probably won’t run quite that many,” Kissee said. “Our carrying capacity will be a little less but we still have our ranches and farm down south in Dustin and Hannah.”
Kissee believes the Looped Square ranch will allow the southern area ranch and farm to get a much-needed break.
“We are not abandoning them, but the good news is they will be able to get some rest,” he said. “We try to rest our pastures quite a bit anyway and implement some of those good managing practices but we were kind of getting to where we had 300 head of cow and calves and bulls. That’s quite a bit of stress and pressure on that land.”
Kissee said this ranch will serve as centralized location for many programs while expanding other programs.
“Traditionally we’ve been really spread out in terms of our ranch, our Ag Youth Program, we got us (DANR) here, and the wildlife program,” he said. “Really looking forward to being all together and to be able to team up more and make our work stuff more efficient.”
The newly-acquired ranch has existing structures including a house, a trailer, barns, and buildings to store equipment.
“We can make it run perfect just as it is right now,” Kissee said. “We will take a slow and steady growth approach.”
Kissee claimed the ranch offers the Nation an abundance of opportunity for now and the future.