Floyd Watkins facing foreclosure

by Brent Gardner-Smith, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

WOODY CREEK — There are two pending foreclosure sales on Floyd Watkins’ 45-acre Beaver Run Ranch on upper Woody Creek Road, as Watkins is in default on two loans worth $3.4 million.

Watkins owes Alpine Bank $1.93 million on a $2 million loan that was due Dec. 10, 2008, according to Pitkin County treasurer records. And Watkins owes the full amount on a $1.5 million loan from Rocky Mountain Equity Mortgage Co. that was due in September 2006. Beaver Run Ranch was apparently used as collateral against the loans.

The foreclosure process now under way could lead to a sale of Beaver Run Ranch on the front steps of the county courthouse this summer. The first foreclosure sale, related to a $1.5 million loan, is set for July 1. The second sale, on the $2 million loan, is set for Aug. 5.

Pitkin County assessor’s records show Beaver Run Ranch at 6090 Woody Creek Road is also owned by Ma. Lourdes Luevano Lopez. Neither Watkins or Lopez could be reached for comment Monday.

Watkins came to Woody Creek a multimillionaire and has a notorious place in Woody Creek lore for feuding with the late Hunter S. Thompson, who lived down the road from Beaver Run Ranch.

“This corpulent transplant from Miami bought a beautifully rustic spread spanning about a mile of Woody Creek and transformed it into what looked like a gated Kentucky bluegrass horse farm, without the horses,” wrote Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis about Watkins in the 2008 book he co-authored with Michael Cleverly titled The Kitchen Readings. “White fences replaced the split rails, the ancient ranch house was supplanted by a stone chateau; Woody Creek itself was contoured by bulldozers into ten or twelve linked cascades and two manmade ponds, which were stocked with non-native trophy trout. Hunter tried to accept Watkins and the specter surrounding him, but Floyd just didn’t fit in.”

 Heather Rousseau/Aspen Daily News
Beaver Run Ranch in Woody Creek is in foreclosure.

Thompson ran for Pitkin County sheriff in 1970 and one of his campaign planks stated that “it will be the policy of the sheriff’s office to savagely harass those engaged in any form of land-rape. This will be done by acting, with utmost dispatch, on any and all righteous complaints.”

One day in the late 1980s, scores of expensive trout turned up dead in Watkins’ ponds. Hunter was blamed. Shortly thereafter, Watkins called authorities saying Thompson had fired a gun in the early morning near his home.

At the time, Thompson said he was shooting at a giant porcupine on the loose in Woody Creek. In 2005, Thompson told a reporter from a British newspaper that he had in fact fired a gun early in the morning near Watkins’ home.

Braudis writes in The Kitchen Readings that the “trouticide” was actually caused from too much algaecide being poured into the ponds by Watkins’ son and ranch manager.

When the truth about the trout came out, Hunter “reveled in Floyd’s chagrin,” Braudis wrote. “In addition to falsely accusing him of killing the trout, Floyd had proven that his failure to meet all the criteria for simple decency should be combined with his misstatements and he should be driven from Woody Creek Valley entirely.”

On Monday, Claudia Luevano, Watkins’ sister-in-law, said Watkins “was very ill.”

Asked about the pending foreclosure sales and the failure to pay the two loans worth $3.5 million, Luevano said, “Someone is going to take care of them.”

No “notice to cure” the loan defaults has been filed with the Pitkin County treasurer in the matter.

Watkin’s property, where he once kept tigers to repel trespassers, is currently valued by the Pitkin County assessor at $6.5 million and includes a 3,682-square-foot house. The property also includes a manicured outdoor area alongside Woody Creek that includes a gazebo, bar, teepee and chuck wagon. A portion of the gazebo was reportedly mistakenly built on Forest Service land.

For the last several years Watkins was trying to sell Beaver Run Ranch through full-page newspaper ads in local newspapers. The price was $29 million.

Today, according to Luevano, the property is still for sale, but the asking price has dropped to $14 million.