Partnership builds future of iconic ranch
Last updated 8/10/2022 at Noon
“Hell, no! There will be no casino!” was Glenn Cole’s response when queried about recent rumors regarding the future of Pole Creek Ranch.
The Coles purchased the ranch that lies along Highway 242 across from Sisters Middle School in 2017 from long-time rancher and Sisters resident Richard Patterson. The first five years of their ownership of the ranch have been full of plans, sizeable deferred-maintenance expenses, and legal challenges that have created unexpected cash outflow (see story, page 9), to say nothing of two-plus years of COVID-19 restrictions and supply shortages.
With a need for capital and some specific expertise, the Coles have entered a partnership with the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, which was looking to invest in Central Oregon, and who have extensive expertise in agriculture and hospitality.
From the very beginning of their negotiations, both the Coles and the Tribe agreed that no consideration would be given to any development of a casino, hotel, or other large facility. Concerns about such potential developments have been high in Sisters since word of the partnership began to filter into the community.
The ranch will continue to raise cattle and grow hay. To create a profitable operation, the Coles obtained permits to build 10 400-square-foot guest cabins tucked in the woods in the southwest corner of the ranch, where no lights or noise will intrude on neighboring properties.
The former Patterson ranch house has been remodeled to serve as the lodge for the guest ranch cabins. Plans were drawn for the cabins prior to COVID, which stopped work on the project. Now, with supply issues, the cost of constructing the cabins has increased two-and-a-half to three times as much as initial estimates. The County is allowing the cabins to be built in phases: Two to three cabins will be built at a time.
The lodge and adjacent large lawn area will allow for 18 weddings/events a year to take place for up to 250 people, also permitted by Deschutes County. Parking is in a field adjacent to the house, not visible from Highway 242.
A mutual friend connected the Coles and the Tribe. The Coles did their research to vet the Tribe and they liked what they found. The Tribe has a good reputation as environmental stewards. They have strong experience in the hospitality field. And with two ranches in southern Oregon, they can offer agricultural expertise.
The Tribe made an investment in Pole Creek Properties and has a significant interest. The Coles declined to disclose percentages of ownership, and the Tribe has not responded to The Nugget’s queries.
The Coles, as VU LLC, own outright the 40 acres on the northeast corner of the ranch with water and road easements. The entire parcel of 350 acres is called Pole Creek Ranch. (See stories, page 9 and 11.)
“They want the business to be a wild success,” said Cole. “They are never in the way, only offering suggestions and help.”
The Cow Creek Band acquired ranch property in 2000 when the Bare family decided to sell them the K-Bar Ranches in the Umpqua Valley. The Tribe grew the operation, adding properties throughout the valley. In 2013, the ranch expanded into the Rogue Valley with the purchase of the Rogue River Ranch near Central Point. Today, the ranches manage approximately 5,500 acres, where they produce 10,000 tons of hay and raise 4,000 head of cattle annually.