RED MOUNTAIN RANCH
Crested Butte is one
of the most beautiful mountain towns in the world. Isolated
from major thoroughfares and population centers, its relative
seclusion has allowed it to avoid the out-of-control growth that
has taken place at comparable year-around resort communities.
But as Crested Butte inevitably grows and develops, many long-term
residents, as well as those who have visited the area over the
years, have expressed a desire to put a little space between
themselves and the density that comes with such growth and development.
The Stewardship of
Red Mountain Ranch
Rationales for land use
conservation have traditionally emphasized aesthetic values and
recreational opportunities. Both of these were boldly and innovatively
addressed by Bill Lacy and Daniel Dow, along with Jim Sell, when
they developed the original Ranch. Due to the special nature
of this land parcel, they developed the Ranch in a way that would
demonstrate the highest possible standards of site design both
aesthetically and environmentally. They would dare to hope that
Red Mountain Ranch might serve as an inspiration and model for
future development in the Crested Butte area.
Every road cut and every
potential building site was selected with the utmost consideration
to minimizing its visual impact, especially from the highway
below. Preserving views and privacy, both for residents of Red
Mountain Ranch and for residents of the community at large, was
an underlying principle. In selecting the building envelopes,
Lacy and Dow hoped to avoid much of what is so distracting in
many mountain towns--towering homes on ridges which are eye sores
for the entire community, homes which are visible to neighboring
homeowners, and roads which are unsightly affronts to those who
pass by along valley highways below. All of these issues, and
many more, were considered before the final roadways were planned
and the final lot lines were drawn. Roadways were designed to
be aesthetic, as well as functional; the entry to the Ranch was
landscaped in a natural way; all utilities were buried; and the
signage throughout was designed to fit beautifully into the landscape.
It was because of this sensitivity to each other, to the larger
community, and to the National Forest beyond that many of us
chose to become a part of the Red Mountain Ranch community.
It was not only the aesthetic
value of the land that was considered in the development of the
Ranch, however. Recreational opportunities are also often a
rationale for land use conservation, and recreational use by
the homeowners was another priority for the developers. By restricting
each homeowner to a precise building envelope and to limited
fencing, it is possible for the original Ranch to remain open
to the homeowners for hiking, cross country skiing, snow shoeing,
horseback riding, and, most importantly, access to the National
Forest and the wilderness area beyond the Ranch boundaries.
Because of the limited fencing, wildlife is able to roam unfettered.
Rather than perceiving this as a restriction, it is actually
quite liberating, as it makes it possible for every homeowner
to almost feel as though he or she lives on a large undeveloped
parcel of land, among others who share an appreciation for that
land and its beauty.
of land use conservation based on aesthetic value and recreational
opportunities emphasize the benefits to humans. And these are
noble pursuits. However, at Red Mountain Ranch we hope to take
a much broader and deeper perspective understanding that we are
members, not masters, of the ecological community and that that
community has value in and of itself. Although we are all legal
owners of our lots we are more correctly stewards of this land
and should ensure that we protect and care for it. We then can
pass it on to those that come after us with the knowledge we
have preserved the beauty but have also benefited from that beauty,
making the parts greater than the whole.
Understanding why we
need to be stewards of this land parcel as opposed to owners
of it is an important first step, but we also want to address
the issue of how to act and how to proceed in that role. The
developers and their team early on addressed the aesthetic and
recreational issues by their innovative site plan design. Virtually
every tree, rock outcrop, wetland, and meadow was considered
in the design of the Ranch. Not only did their initial site
planning address these issues, but they put into place protective
covenants and an architectural review to ensure that homeowners
today, as well as those in the future, continue to uphold these
high standards of stewardship and preservation.
Preserving the natural
qualities of Red Mountain Ranch is the number one objective of
the protective covenants. The covenants represent a covenant
relationship between the homeowners and the natural environment,
as well as a covenant relationship between the homeowners themselves.
That relationship also extends to the larger community. Red
Mountain Ranch has been designed for those people who want to
enjoy the solitude and the natural beauty of the Ranch, while
simultaneously insisting that they remain stewards of it.
It is also the intent
of the covenants and architectural review to encourage design,
siting, and massing of homes and other buildings to take their
cues from the land. In years to come, we hope that visitors
to Red Mountain Ranch will immediately know that they have entered
a unique place--a place that awakens a feeling of calm and respect
through the expression of quiet architectural restraint and landscaping
that is in harmony with nature. The homes are designed to blend
into, rather than affront, the natural environment.
Natural materials and
colors are utilized, finishes are non-reflective, bright exterior
lighting is avoided, landscape materials are indigenous, and
noxious weeds and invasive ornamental plants are controlled and
managed. It is with a philosophy of fitting into the natural
environment, rather than standing out from or dominating nature,
as well as being cognizant of the impact on one's neighbors,
the larger community, and the bordering National Forest, that
Red Mountain Ranch created its covenants, including established
building envelopes, height limitations, maximum square footage
allowances, massing guidelines, and material recommendations.
Rather than seeing the
protective covenants as restricting the personal property rights
and freedoms of the homeowners, the covenants can be viewed as
helping to enhance and preserve the property as a whole and contributing
to the goal of living harmoniously within a community, respecting
each other and the land. Property values and land values are
terms often used by those in the field of real estate, and protecting
those values is a priority. The Red Mountain Ranch homeowners,
on the other hand, think more in terms of valuing the land and
protecting it, for it has intrinsic value and does not exist
for them. It is this principle which reflects their values
and upon which the protective covenants are based.
In fact, it is hoped
that homeowners will view the architectural review committee
and other homeowners as resources, rather than as obstacles,
during the design and building process. It is hoped that homeowners
will draw upon the experience and knowledge of others, as they
design and build their individual homesteads, in a manner which
is sensitive to and respectful of the land, of their neighbors,
and of the larger community.
The site plan, protective
covenants, and architectural review predominately address the
issues of aesthetic values and recreational opportunities only
and therefore can go only so far. At Red Mountain Ranch we hope
to raise the stakes by taking the broader and deeper view and
to demonstrate an encouraging capacity for self-restraint. Even
if the parcels, that we as homeowners have been fortunate enough
to purchase, were to remain in our families for many generations,
we are still only temporary guests of this unique, and we have
an enormous responsibility to preserve and protect it. It is
the commitment of the Red Mountain Ranch homeowners to do just
that. How we treat the land today, how we build and live on
the land, and what decisions we make today will have an impact
for many years to come on those who live on the Ranch, on those
who live in the larger community, and on the wildlife and vegetation
which pre-date man's enterprises on the land.
The philosophy of Red
Mountain Ranch is to be good neighbors to each other, as well
as those living in and visiting Crested Butte and Gunnison County.
Most importantly, however, it is to do a good job on our
watch of this precious land and to begin a great philosophical
and ecological healing by being responsible and vigilant stewards
of Red Mountain Ranch for the many species who share this land
with us, as well as for ourselves and for those who will follow.