McBride family completes conservation of Lost Marbles Ranch with Aspen Valley Land Trust

Staff report
Lost Marble Ranch now has the full protection of conservation easements, after the McBride family completed their donation to the Aspen Valley Land Trust.
Photo credit/Pete McBride

A conservation easement donated by the McBride family to the Aspen Valley Land Trust completes a two-part effort to preserve the pristine and remote land, according to an announcement on Tuesday.

The bulk of the family’s nearly 2,000-acre Lost Marbles Ranch was protected in 2019 through a donated conservation easement to the land trust. The family’s donation of the second easement will “protect the remainder of the ranch,” the announcement said. 

“Dedicating our land to its highest and best use — wildlife habitat — was an important and easy decision for our family,” said Pete McBride, son of John and Laurie McBride. “It is great to know the open space, agricultural legacy of this land will continue for generations to come — not just for its stewards and any livestock, but also the elk, bear, beaver, raptors, songbirds, and so many more.”

John and Laurie McBride bought in 1979 what was called Capitol Creek Ranch from Mt. Simmons Mining Co. The McBrides renamed it “Lost Marbles Ranch” because their friends thought they’d lost their minds moving from their Aspen home to a remote property some 20 miles away in Old Snowmass.

The couple raised their three children on the ranch, and John and Laurie still live there. 

The McBride family — John, Peter, Kate, Laurie, and Johno — at their Lost Marbles Ranch, circa 1983. (Courtesy photo)

In a statement, John McBride said the family’s decision to donate the rest of the ranch was “just the right thing to do — for the land, for the wildlife, and for the valley.”

Lost Marbles Ranch is part of a 5,300-acre wildlife corridor across private properties from Snowmass, Capitol, and East Sopris creeks, and it is bordered by public land and provides what the land trust’s announcement said is “exceptional wildlife in the Capitol Creek Valley that co-exists with the property’s agricultural operations.”

“It is truly an honor to work with community members like the McBride family, who have been so generous and forgone potentially much larger financial returns in order to protect this special place in perpetuity,” said Erin Quinn, conservation director for the land trust. “This particular project has it all: significant water, local agriculture production, extensive wildlife habitat, sweeping views, and the right intentions.”

The Aspen Valley Land Trust has partnered with private landowners and community partners to protect over 45,000 acres of land in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys since 1967, according to its announcement.