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Storm Mountain Ranch- Case Study

by on November 11, 2011

Storm Mountain Ranch is luxurious conservation community just outside of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It is a chunk of land that is 1,063 acres large, where only 14 houses are built. The ranch is an example of new, innovative conservation in the West which was began by Jamie and Jeff Temple, the sons of the man who started the Steamboat Ski Resort. The ranch is unique because it is primarily taken care of by the home owners association in the small community; they are focused on keeping agricultural land in production and preserving open space. Another area of land is being built by the Temples near Steamboat because Storm Mountain Ranch was supported by many people. Both of these communities are dedicated to saving energy and resources.

This ranch is a an example of how humans have developed a “balance of nature.” In Jelinski’s article he talks about how “otherness has been used to justify widespread destruction and exploitation of natural environments and vast numbers of species extinctions” (40). The Temples have found a way to allow a community to live off the land and continue the legacy of ranching, while sustaining the environment. This is an alternative for landowners who exploit resources because it creates a way of regulation. It is interesting how this community is designed for the upper class (each homesite costs 2.5 million dollars or more), and the area is marketed for this group of people. Only 35 percent of these people live in their homes at Storm Mountain all year long. The other 65 percent own other homes, so the development of Storm Mountain may not be benefiting the larger environment since resources are being exploited elsewhere by the same people.

Storm Mountain Ranch offers people the opportunity live in a community, do what they love while sustaining the environment around them, but it is only available to those with a lot money. How do you think this concept of a sustainable community can cater to the larger population who do not have large quantities of money to spend? Do you think this ranch is really finding a balance in nature?

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4 Comments
  1. No, I don’t think the ranch is really finding a balance in nature. I, too, find irony in the fact that the people who live on this plot of ‘sustainable’ land are those of an elite class .The elite class in this country have only earned their status though abusing resources whereas people who do not have as much wealth are, generally more likely to use resources wisely, use less of them, and not create as much waste; most of them (unconsciously or consciously) have a smaller impact on the earth.

    Having multiple, extravagant homes is ‘luxury’ that allows a person to show off their image-based status.Third world mining practices, polluting factories, and destroyed local economies (which, in general are characterized by unsustainable environmental practices since their traditional wisdom has been lost) provide the building materials, textiles, and goods that the elite class purchases to show off that status. When money is used to purchase these goods, the destructive process is continually supported. Therefore, one can conclude that, in general, the more wealth one has, the more environmental damage that person is creating. Constructing houses on a ‘sustainable’ ranch is likely also for show and a strategy to increase one’s status. Yes, there are some upsides to having communities like this (it keeps open space/prevents over-development). However, with the outdated mindset of “living The American Dream” gaining wealth and spending it is the inevitable outcome . With this “dream” still alive, even something that appears to be a step forward, such as being part of the green movement, is often for status as well. If we’re motivated to do things because they are “cool”, the green movement itself is going nowhere. Why do people pride themselves on their image rather than who they actually are? Motives one has for doing something manifest in the actions one takes. Building small, truly sustainable homes on the land is far more important when it comes to protecting the earth for our children and therefore ensuring future happiness. This would occur if the motive was protecting the environment rather than image. There needs to be a social paradigm shift in order for real conservation to occur.

  2. I found this article really interesting, especially because Steamboat is so close to my own home and I found that I could relate to a lot of what the author was saying. Though I do not think that this ranch necessarily finds a ‘balance’ in nature, I do not understand the criticisms in these ‘elite’ people trying to find a more sustainable way to live. Yes, these people are accustomed to a life in which their ecological footprint is a lot larger than others, but what is the harm in trying to fix this? The world is always going to have economic classes, there is always going to be the rich, the richer, the middle class, and the poor. People are always going to have more and less resources available to them. This doesn’t mean that these people with access to more money, can’t use that money in order to make their impact on the environment a smaller one than it has been.

  3. Storm Mountain Ranch, in the Colorado Valley, models protective conservation organization. Community members actively contribute to creating, “a new model for land development in the West, one based on stewardship, agricultural protection, and environmental preservation”(1). Colorado’s land preservation subdivision have created incentives for cluster homesites, which were ultimately altered by developers who felt a fewer homes per acre would provide favorable circumstances for conservation. The houses in Storm Mountain Ranch were sold for $2.5 million, which is obviously expensive. In regards to your question Emily, I think a sustainable community can cater to a larger population if it were located in a different region. Real Estate in general is extremely expensive in the mountains, which probably factored into the final cost of these homesites. Also, as researchers are continuing to examine alternative energies, they are becoming more competitively price in relation to fossil fuels. This could in turn play a factor in the feasibility to distribute these technologies to the greater population.

  4. Benjamin N. permalink

    I think it’s unfair to make an opportunity like this available to only the affluent. The opportunity for conservation should be available to everyone, regardless of income. There are certainly ways to build sustainable communities for non-“elite” members of society. I might come off sounding like an idealist, but if we had a Habitat for Humanity style NPO that was focused on developing green, sustainable housing and sustainable communities, then we could make inexpensive (but high quality) communities for the other classes and focus them on making efforts toward sustainability.

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