Keeping family tradition alive on the Child Ranch
SNOWMASS – Steve Child intends to do the best he can to maintain the ranching tradition on the spectacular property that’s been in his family for 51 years.
Child said Sunday that he and one of his sisters will retain 160 acres of the ranch in Capitol Creek Valley where they were raised. Their parents, the late Bob and Tee Child, bought the ranch in 1961.
Four of his siblings decided to sell their interests, which total 1,321 acres and five lots for single-family homes. They went on the market this week for $41 million.
Child said seeing the ranch get broken up is “difficult,” but listing the majority of it for sale was a matter of time after his parents died.
“Over the years, we considered different options,” he said of him and his siblings. “None of them wanted to keep the ranch or couldn’t afford to keep it, and I couldn’t afford to buy them out.
“It was inevitable it was going to have to be sold.”
Bob Child was a longtime Pitkin County commissioner who helped create strict growth-control measures. He was a fierce defender of the county’s agricultural heritage as it shifted to a resort and second-home mecca.
Before his death in 2002, Bob Child helped craft the conservation provisions that preserved his family’s ranch and the land-use plan that benefits his children. The single-family-home lots are limited to 5,000 square feet each. Conservation easements purchased by the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails program and Aspen Valley Land Trust cover the majority of the ranch and restrict development potential. The house lots are clustered near Capitol Creek Road.
“If the spirit and the rules of conservation easements are followed, the land is well protected,” Steve Child said. “That was a historic agreement.”
The model for working out a conservation and limited-development plan with Pitkin County was used at least three other times with other ranches after the groundbreaking arrangement with the Child family.
Steve Child isn’t sure what to expect now that the ranch is on the market. It’s joining a lot of expensive, large properties that haven’t sold during the recession and slow recovery, he noted.
The Aspen Valley Ranch in Woody Creek is on the market for $52 million. The Craig Ranch in Woody Creek is for sale for $38 million. At least three other, smaller ranches are for sale between Old Snowmass and Carbondale.
Steve Child currently runs a cattle operation on his family’s ranch, raising a Hereford-Angus-Gelbvieh mix of beef cattle. The land being retained by the family includes some irrigated ground where crops can be raised as well as pasture for cattle grazing. He wants to continue ranching himself or rent out the land for cattle grazing and growing crops.
“I don’t want to sell out. I’ve lived here 51 years now,” Steve Child said. He and his wife, Molly, will continue living on the ranch whether they continue the cattle operation or rent out their land. Steve Child is running for the Pitkin County commissioner seat for the district where he lives.
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