Ranchers pushed from Aspen area | VailDaily.com

Ranchers pushed from Aspen area

ASPEN – Cowpokes are officially an endangered species in the Roaring Fork Valley.More than 11,000 acres of ranch land was sold in the area in the last year, and most of that land was sold to development firms, said Martha Cochran, director of the Aspen Valley Land Trust, a conservation organization.”The core of the ranching community is getting pushed out,” said Cochran, whose group is battling to preserve some of the last remaining large tracts on the valley floor.The ongoing real estate frenzy that shattered sales volume records for the last two years and is on a record pace this year is also giving the area a facelift by bringing urbanization to the remaining rural corners. Cochran said only a handful of ranches larger than 1,000 acres remain between Aspen and Glenwood Springs.”It’s gone,” she said. “Other than Capitol Creek, it’s gone.”The big sales that she is aware of include:• Chenoa, a 5,000-acre ranch with a long history of development schemes near the Spring Valley campus of Colorado Mountain College.• Lookout Mountain Ranch, a 2,200-acre spread in the hills between Red Canyon and Glenwood Springs. The buyer is studying his development options.• Gould Ranch, an 1,800-acre working ranch in the Missouri Heights area that is adjacent to the well-publicized Lawrence Ranch, which the land trust purchased and partially preserved. The fate of the Gould Ranch is unknown.• The 1,600-acre Bershenyi Ranch, near the entrance of Four Mile Canyon near Glenwood Springs.• The 565-acre Hunt Ranch in Missouri Heights between Catherine Store Road and Cattle Creek Road. The new owners have applied to Garfield County to develop 93 house lots.The hot market makes it more difficult for conservation organizations to do their job, said Dale Will, director of Pitkin County’s Open Space and Trails department. The best chance to conserve a ranch is by talking to the families that worked the land and have an emotional interest in it. Once the land is out of their hands, it’s often impossible to get investors interested in discussing conservation, Will said.”When new money comes in, they are much more interested in speculation and more concerned about the bottom line,” he said.Will argues that land prices will continue to rise, so any remaining conservation efforts need to be done as quickly as possible. Twenty years from now, he said, virtually all land in the county will be developed or conserved.”Now is the time to make the investment in land conservation,” he said.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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