This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
In addition to protecting Schleicher County, Texas, and doing everything else required of the top lawman there, Sheriff David Doran has to ensure a 1,691-acre polygamous compound doesn't deteriorate.
That means Doran patrols the Yearning for Zion Ranch so thieves and vandals don't trespass. It means mowing the grass, irrigating a 23-acre orchard, watering about 300 head of exotic livestock axis deer and blackbuck antelope left over from the ranch's day as a game ranch and ensuring a sewer pond worthy of a municipality doesn't go dry.
"It is a small city or a small community," Doran said in a telephone interview. "It's set up as such."
Doran is trying to ensure the YFZ Ranch is ready for sale. Meanwhile, authorities in Texas are looking for buyers.
The ranch belonged to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. After a massive law enforcement raid there in 2008, FLDS President Warren Jeffs and 10 other men were eventually convicted of crimes related to bigamy and sex abuse from taking girls as wives.
Texas contended most of the crimes were committed on the ranch, which sits outside the town of Eldorado. In 2012, the state began the process of seizing the ranch as contraband. At the time, the YFZ Ranch had an assessed value of $19.96 million, according to county tax rolls.
The ranch officially became Texas property more than a year ago. But Texas appears a long way from disposing of it.
The ranch will always have the taint of the crimes committed there. It's also remote 40 miles from the nearest town with a Wal-Mart and has amenities that would pose logistical maintenance challenges.
Besides the orchard, water and sewer system, the ranch boasts living quarters, barns, classrooms and the towering temple where Jeffs committed some of his sex crimes.
Allison Palmer wants to let everyone know that if you're interested in buying the Yearning for Zion Ranch, you can call her.
Palmer is the 51st district attorney in Texas and the person responsible for disposing of the YFZ Ranch.
"We have any legal option on the table," said Palmer, whose district includes Schleicher County.
Palmer is willing to deal directly with anyone wanting to make an offer to buy the ranch.
Could the ranch go to public auction? Possibly, Palmer said.
Could the state just keep the ranch and make it a law enforcement training center? How about a facility for boys or girls either a detention center or a camp?
Palmer wouldn't rule out any of that.
There was one thing Palmer did rule out: Texas isn't selling the ranch back to the FLDS.
"If we had reason to believe someone was going to use the property to commit offenses," Palmer said, "I think we could certainly not sell to that group or person."
Doran said he and Palmer are waiting on the Texas General Land Office sort of the Texas equivalent of Utah's School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration to issue a report assessing the potential for a sale.
"The next phase," the sheriff said, "is seeing what the best option is to liquidate."
While Texas law makes it Palmer's job to dispose of the property, the law makes the sheriff the conservator.
Doran said an arrangement has been worked out in which the Texas attorney general pays the utility bills, but Schleicher County covers the maintenance. All sides hope to recoup their costs when the ranch is liquidated.
Those utility bills were $8,000 a month when Texas took control. Doran said he had the transformers turned off to everything but the most necessary locations. The monthly utility bill has dropped to as low as $1,600.
But neither the state nor the county has appropriated any extra money for maintenance. So most of the work has fallen to Doran, one jail inmate he allows to work there and a few of Doran's staff.
"We're a small community," Doran said. "We can't pay our officers overtime to be out there."
Schleicher County had 3,162 people in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Doran has installed surveillance cameras to ensure there is always some protection on the property, and his deputies frequently patrol past the ranch. He also has to check that pipes don't burst and flood buildings, and that hydrants are in working condition in case of a fire.
The sheriff said every vacant property brings a public safety concern, but the YFZ Ranch is different. It attracts locals and tourists wanting to see a piece of infamy.
"We get people all the time stopping at the gate," Doran said, "just requesting to tour the place, which we do not allow."