MISSOULA, Mont. -

Metropolitan Agricultural Investments now has the deed to one of Montana's oldest continuously running family ranches.

Met Life bought the 3,000-acre Maclay Ranch at auction a year ago. It had already foreclosed on the property which, for years, had been promoted as a potential world-class winter resort.

Owner Tom Maclay had already built ski trails. He had a year to raise money to get the ranch back, and wanted to lease 11,000 acres of public land on the Lolo National Forest.

Met Life said in a public statement, "We're currently exploring plans for the property, including marketing it for sale. At this time we don't have further details."

Maclay's friend and supporter, real estate broker Bill Zader called the news "a Montana tragedy, a sad day for five generations of a family."

Zader hopes Bitterroot Resort supporters can "buy time" with Met Life to continue resort plans. Zader still thinks it's "great economics."

He said Bitterroot Resort could offer some of the "best skiing in the west."