River Ranch Property Owners Association is comprised of a group of private landowners. Many of the landowners have held deed to the land since 1969 when the original agreements were made to purchase the properties. The original agreements were set in place by the Gulf America Group. At that time it was stated that no one could build a permanent house that the property was just for recreation. That is what River Ranch is all about for us, recreation, family and an escape from the weekly rat race.
The land is owned by many families for generations for yesterday, today and tomorrow. Other landowners are new, hearing about the property by many different means, but the deeds are purchased for the same purpose: recreation. The River Ranch Property Owners Association tries to unite everyone on a common goal where everyone utilizes the facility year round. We hunt, we fish, some members own swamp buggies or four wheelers.
Family events such as Bar-B-Ques are held often, we host various field day events for the all terrain vehicles, and special hunts to teach the older kids proper hunting techniques. Tread Lightly classes are offered to encourage smart motor use of the property.
Family unity is a way of life on the Ranch. We are proactive in stewardship of the land that we hold for our children. Teaching our children about proper safety whether in the woods or on the trails. We have year round feeding programs for our wildlife. We plant, we seed and we feed.
We maintain equipment to fight wildfire and work as closely as possible with the Division of Forestry and Polk County Fire Rescue. We have an all terrain rescue vehicle made possible by the Polaris Company.
What a Deal!
For $100 bucks you would get three days and two nights at River Ranch Resort. In the 1960’s Gulf America would then take you to the property and give you the sales pitch. If you chose to purchase the $100 would be your down payment for the land. Gulf American Corp. put this offer out world wide, concentrating on the Armed Services. A certain portion of the property being sold was set up as a recreational area in the proposed development, property set aside for posterity. This offer seemed too good to be true. Truth be told, it was too good to be true. Many of the buyers signed long disclosure statements that explained the lack of roads and drainage canals along with additional state laws drafted in the 1970’s that would possibly keep the land from building at all. Gulf America went bust and the property was taken over by GAC Corp who eventually went out of business. The Gulf American Land Corporation turned the property to a group of deed holders to manage. This group of land owners became the River Ranch Property Owners Association. Mr. George West, who was a member of GAC Land Corp was a founding member of RRPOA, quite a few of his papers on the origins of the property can be seen here. Mr. West along with Mr. Frank Kemp who was the original treasurer organized a group of recreational enthusiasts who vowed to protect the property for future generations.
Hunters began to purchase deeds to have a local hunt and camp area. River Ranch Property Owners Association slowly grew.
In the 1970s, the Association probably had around a thousand members, permits were $5.00. Roads were very primitive. You were coming out just to hunt during the particular seasons. Campsites were not assigned and you put your camp just about where you wanted. The camping area started for safety reasons to keep members safe during the hunt seasons, to keep members out of the hunt area. Members gathered for a yearly fish fry and the general assembly. The general assembly was, and still is held for elections of officers. Dues were raised to $10.00. The 70s showed jeeps and swamp buggies as the vehicles of choice on the RRPOA roads.
In the 1980s the Association had grown slowly to about 2000 members paying $25.00 yearly. Roads were still primitive, no roadwork was even considered. No pavilion was not there, in fact the gate was at 630 and 60, not where it sits today. Swamp buggies, trucks and jeeps were still the only vehicles using the roads. The cattle man took care of all security, checked members in and out the gate. He looked after it all.
In the 90s the cattleman turned over the gate, security and general administration to RRPOA. Avatar decided the gate should not be on their property any longer and the current office was built by Ed Heinlien, who donated the construction work. RRPOA purchased 13 Ac for the office area. They ran out of money building the house and had to borrow to finish it up. Dues were $30 at timeline, doubling by the end of the decade. By the end of the 90s ATVs started showing up on the roads. These were mainly used by the hunters to get back to the hunt areas.