PitCo commissioners eagerly approve conservation deal with Moore family | AspenTimes.com

PitCo commissioners eagerly approve conservation deal with Moore family

$10 million agreement will preserve critical elk habitat along McLain Flats Road

The Moore property on McLain Flats Road in Aspen on Thursday, May 19, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The Pitkin County commissioners approved the first reading Wednesday of an ordinance to purchase land and conservation easements on the Tom and Carolyn Moore ranch on McLain Flats Road.

Pitkin County has offered $10 million for the outright purchase of 95 acres and a conservation easement on between 135 and 177 acres.

Dale Will, acquisitions and special projects director for Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, said the project is a “big deal” for the program because it provides wildlife habitat, preserves agricultural lands and views, and has the potential to enhance recreation along the Rio Grande Trail.

“I’ve been at the county now for 23 years and I’ve been thinking of this property the whole time I’ve been here,” he said.

The Moores have lived on the property since 1966. The area along McLain Flats Road has transformed from a secluded hideaway about 3 miles outside of Aspen to a neighborhood of luxury mansions. Tom Moore told the county commissioners he didn’t want to see similar development sweep through the ranch.

This image from Pitkin County Open Space and Trails shows the Moore property in yellow outline. Other open space parcels in the vicinity are color coded.
Courtesy image

Open space director Gary Tennenbaum said everyone that drives by the property understands how critical it is for elk because they congregate on the ranch from fall to spring. They have a “clear shot” down from Star Mesa, above the Moore’s ranch, down to the Roaring Fork River, Tennenbaum said.

“For habitat, this is a huge, huge win,” he said. “This is a major connection for them.”

The 95 acres that will be purchased by the county are on the west side of McLain Flats Road. The county will pledge to keep that ground free of development for perpetuity.

The Moores fully control 135 acres on the east side of the road. The site includes their humble, 1928 Sears Roebuck kit home and classic old red barn, which Tom said also was a kit. He has renovated both structures extensively. The county will acquire a conservation easement on the 135 acres. The Moores can continue living on the land. The family will also get a development right for a new home. The Moores’ home and barn will be historically designated.

The Moores and extended family own another 42 acres of contiguous ground. It is unknown if that will be part of the deal. If it is, that parcel will also have a development right for a home. If that land isn’t part of the deal, the price drops to $9 million, according to Will.

The Aspen City Council approved a $1 million contribution to the purchase on Tuesday night.

The deal was approved by county commissioners Greg Poschman, Patti Clapper, Steve Child and Kelly McNicholas Kury. Francie Jacober was unable to attend the meeting.

“It’s such a spectacular place,” Poschman said. The Moores have set a stellar example for all landowners who want to act for the benefit of the community, he said.

McNicholas Kury said the deal wouldn’t have been possible without the “generosity” of the family. The Moores are surrendering millions of dollars by not selling on the free market.

It’s not the first time the Moores have donated land or sold it at reduced price for the benefit of the community. They sold property along Maroon Creek Road to the open space program in 1993. They also provided land for the public school campus, the Aspen Valley Ski Club headquarters and affordable housing.

“We don’t often sell to normal people,” Tom Moore quipped. “Those kind of things make us happy.”

The commissioners in a second reading and a public hearing on June 8 must approve the ordinance.

Tom and Carolyn will remain on the property after the deal is done.

“I’m not planning on going anywhere except heaven or hell when the time comes,” Tom Moore said.



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