Dariens preserve part of historic Marble ranch
Larry Darien received what he labeled a “generous offer” last summer for the Marble-area ranch that’s been in his family for more than 75 years.The unsolicited purchase attempt spurred his family to take steps to conserve the gorgeous property rather than sell out. You never know what someone else will do with the land, Darien said.”It’s a special place, and I just would not like to see it developed,” he said.Larry and his wife, Dana, worked with the Aspen Valley Land Trust last month to place a conservation easement on 35 of their 185 acres. They plan to conserve additional acreage this year.A conservation easement allows the Dariens to continue using the land, but they surrender the development potential. In return, the family receives federal tax deductions and state tax credits. Landowners have the option of selling tax credits if they cannot use them.Darien said he considered conservation easements for the last seven or eight years on the piece of ground where he spent his summers as a kid. The land is part of the larger Prospect Mountain Ranch that his father and uncles acquired in the 1930s. His father, Gus, ran cattle with his brothers in the high ground around Marble. They moved their herd down to the ranch in the fall. Larry said his family also had a ranch near Carbondale. (The riding arena along County Road 100, site of a popular summer rodeo, is named after Gus Darien.)The Dariens acquired the ranch from the estate of John Osgood, the entrepreneur who built a coal mine empire around Redstone at the turn of the 20th century. Osgood also built Cleveholm Manor, better known as the Redstone Castle, in 1897. Prospect Mountain Ranch is 3 miles off Highway 133 on the county road that leads to Marble. Aspen Valley Land Trust Executive Director Martha Cochran said the Darien easement could be a fruitful pilot project in the Marble area. Some of the Dariens’ neighbors have become interested in the prospect of conservation easements, she said.The Darien property was an attractive project for the land trust because of its diverse characteristics. It has historic agriculture uses, it’s along the Crystal River, it has high scenic value as open land along the entrance of Marble and it provides valuable wildlife habitat.Darien said he has seen everything from deer and elk on the ranch to badgers and, last spring, lynx.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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