Hanna Ranch is a documentary that debuted in 2013 at the 36th STARZ Denver Film Festival.
Kirk Hannah, the third generation manager and owner of the Hannah Ranch, which is located in Colorado, saw potential in developing his ranch into an eco ranch. Although everyone around thought it was a pure waste of money and provincials, he was determined to prove them wrong.
Looking back to when Kirk was a young child, he was continuously making life hell for his younger brother Jay. Their father died when they were very young and their mother, Mary decided to marry the neighboring farmer, Mr. Frost. The Frost and Hannah ranches combined together made up a total of 12,000 acres of vast farm land.
Kirk’s other brother, Steve, became out of control causing everyone around him grief and disparity, to the point where Mary told him to pack his bags. He later returns to the ranch, but has much difficulty adjusting to Kirk’s ways of running the ranch. Kirk tries hard to help mend Mary and Steve’s relationship, to no avail.
Jay had also escaped the ranch and Kirk’s abuse by going to Mexico. He later returns to the ranch, but still openly admitted his true feelings for Kirk, which was pure hatred.
Everyone remembers Kirk as being a tall, dark, and handsome man, who was very sure of himself. He showed courage, faith, and determination to turn his Ranch into an environmental friendly way. He accredited calm cows for better tasting beef. His wife, Ann believed in Kirk and decided to stick by his side through thick and thin.
Colorado was a rapidly growing state and land developers where flocking to the area to take advantage of the farmers and their failing farm land. Many of Kirk’s neighboring farmers were easily convinced into selling their land, but not Kirk.
Sub Divisions, shopping malls, mobile home parks, and raceways were being built all around the Hanna Ranch. The city also began putting pressure on Kirk by gridlocking him in by building sub stations, water and waste plants, and running power lines all along his property line. This was causing the rancher’s only water source, Fountain Creek, to flood and wash out his farm land. He became very upset because no one was taking responsibility for this. He made it known to everyone that the land developers were to blame for this devastation.
He tried to lean on the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association for some support but they saw Kirk as a turn coat because he was an environmentalist and trying to run his ranch as such.
Kirk developed a plan to save his land and the environment by creating a will that would not allow his land to be turned into a golf course or building developments. Hanna Ranch could only be used by environmentalist for land experiments.
Kirk decided to start with the family and try to convince them of his eco theory, but that went nowhere fast because most of them saw dollar signs over his ideas and dreams. Steve had been battling Kirk for a long time and was relentless in his efforts to push Kirk into selling the ranch to the land developers.
After years of fighting and trying to convince the Coloradans for his right to reserve his land, he started to exhibit signs of depression, anxiety, and paranoia. He took his own life in December 1998.
Will Ann and Jay continue to fight to turn Kirk’s dreams into a reality or will they relent to the city and the land developing vultures?
If you or anyone that you know has ever had to take on the rich and pushy land developers, you will be able to relate to Kirk and his story. I have to say that I truly commend Kirk for his efforts in trying to preserve the environment and keep his beautiful ranch from becoming a large urban development. I had issues with Steve throughout the film, as it is obvious that he is a cold and calculous individual that probably drove his brother to end his life.
Kirk Hanna was a very intelligent man that would be welcome in today’s society because the government has now come on board to try to preserve the environment. He did not care about money, he cared about his family’s heritage and the environment. It is so sad that his family did not support him in his efforts. Thanks to Ann, who has continued to carry on Kirk’s legacy, there will be some hope for preserving 6,000 acres of the family ranch. The Peak To Prairie Conservation Initiative will protect Kirk’s legacy and a total of 34,000 acres of farms and ranches, throughout the United States.
In 2012, almost 1,200 Coloradans committed suicide, almost 90% of those were men. This documentary gives up an inside peak into the life of an articulate, goal oriented man that tried to change farming and ranching for the better. This film was very will written and edited and deserves an 8 out of 10.