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Conservation easement helps preserve iconic working ranch
A win-win for wildlife

The donation of a conservation easement to Aspen Valley Land Trust by longtime community members John and Laurie McBride will help preserve another iconic working ranch in perpetuity, it was recently announced. 

“In conserving Lost Marbles Ranch, the McBrides have permanently protected critical wildlife habitat, agricultural land, and the scenery of the upper Capitol Creek drainage,” it was noted in an AVLT statement that was issued late last week.

“Bordered to the west and north by U.S. Forest Service and BLM lands, the ranch – together with the nearby Capitol Creek Ranch, Harvey Ranch, and a conserved section of the Weiben Ranch – is now part of a 5,300 acre corridor of private land conserved within the drainage,” the statement continued.

The Lost Marbles Ranch, which contains both working land and wild land, is a natural habitat for scores of species of birds, mammals and amphibians. It also provides increasingly important habitat to elk that are wintering and calving. 

“We feel it’s the right thing to do for the land and the wildlife that inhabit it,” stated John McBride. 

He noted the land was originally acquired from the Mt. Emmons Mining Company in 1979. When McBride originally mentioned to friends his plan to purchase, the property far up the Capital Creek Valley many said he’d gone completely mad. That sentiment gave rise to the name “Lost Marbles Ranch.” 

The family has lived on the ranch for the past 40 years and due to their stewardship, the property retains the natural habitat and rural character that existed when purchased by the McBrides. 

The entire family supported this project and provided thoughtful input towards its success, according to AVLT’s statement.

“We are lucky to have the opportunity to create a conservation easement for future generations and maintain open space in our growing valley,” said son Johno McBride. His sister Kate noted: “It is wonderful that three generations of our family support this move to protect land that hardly changed since homesteaders first came here in the early 1900s.

According to AVLT Executive Director Suzanne Stephens, “I grew up in the Capitol Creek Valley, and have known John and Laurie a long time. This valley is the defining feature of my childhood and in many ways formed what Colorado means to me. I always said that if anything ever happened to it, I’d be outta here. 

“I’m so grateful to the McBrides, the Childs, and the Harveys for doing what is best for Colorado and its wildlife. Their vision has been a huge source of hope for me and closes an important circle in saving what’s truly special about our valleys.” 

“The generous donation of this conservation easement speaks volumes about the character of the McBride family,” she added. 

Matriarch Laurie McBride opined that, “We are privileged to have an organization like AVLT to help achieve an easement like this to make conservation an everlasting reality in our valley. We hope it inspires others to consider similar options.”