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Philanthropist Davis dies, will contains incentive for UW, CSU not to sell Y Cross Ranch


CHEYENNE, Wyoming — The will of a wealthy Denver philanthropist who has died contains a large financial incentive for the University of Wyoming and Colorado State University to use a ranch for agricultural education rather than sell the property, the executor of her estate said Thursday.

Amy Davis died Wednesday. She was 86.

Davis' will allows for a "considerable amount" of her estate to support a renewed effort by the universities to use the more than 50,000-acre Y Cross Ranch between Cheyenne and Laramie as a location to teach their agriculture students, estate executor Tyson Dines said Thursday.

He declined to specify the proposed amount.

"It is a serious effort and is made in the hope that there can be a good outcome relating to this remarkable ranch," Dines said.

University of Wyoming spokesman Chad Baldwin said university officials were saddened by Davis' death but had no comment on the proposal.

Davis donated her family's southeast Wyoming ranch to the UW Foundation and CSU Research Foundation in 1997. The Y Cross has hosted a handful of interns over the years, but Davis expressed concern in her final years that the universities weren't using the ranch for nearly as much hands-on teaching as she intended.

Davis envisioned the working cattle ranch that sprawls across low, high, open and wooded terrain would be a perfect place for agriculture students to get hands-on experience in ranching. Officials at the universities have said the Y Cross proved a less-than-ideal teaching location.

The terms of Davis' gift allowed the foundations to sell the Y Cross after 14 years. The foundations began preparing to sell in 2011 with the goal of using the proceeds to fund scholarships for agriculture students.

Davis filed a lawsuit in 2012, alleging the schools hadn't honored the intent of her gift. She lost before the Wyoming Supreme Court in March.

The lawsuit caused the foundations to suspend a scheduled auction of the ranch. University officials have not yet said what they intend to do with the Y Cross now that the court has cleared the legal challenge.

A conservation easement on the Y Cross prohibits substantial additional development on the property. Even so, the ranch likely would fetch several million dollars if sold.

Davis has been a major donor to other causes in Wyoming and Colorado, including the Davis Hospice House in Cheyenne, the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center cancer center, the Denver Hospice and the University of Colorado Medical Center.

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