Aspen Center for Environmental Studies

FPC was contracted by Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) in Aspen, CO to develop conservation and restoration design concept plans for two of their properties, including: Rock Bottom Ranch and Spring Creek. Both these sites are comprised of diverse riparian and wetland ecosystems, environmental education centers, and sustainable agriculture infrastructure. The goals of these conceptual designs were to integrate habitat restoration and enhancement with interpretive trails and signage and sustainable agriculture.

Rock Bottom Ranch has 135 riparian acres that support productive and sustainable local agriculture and important habitat for native wildlife and plant communities. This unique location and program recognizes that the habitat value of agricultural lands is critical at a time when 60% to 70% of the American landscape is dedicated to food and fiber production. Rock Bottom Ranch serves the entire mid-valley community, providing environmental and agricultural education.

The plan for Rock Bottom Ranch includes converting the facilities’ energy systems to solar, ground source and perhaps wind. Concurrently, new programming designed to provide the tools and expertise to a broad spectrum of Valley residents so they can actively engage in local food production and consumption will be developed. Wetland and riparian ecosystem reclamation and protection will be an essential component to education and improved wildlife. Finally, the capacity of existing staff housing will be increased and the farmyard will be enhanced to provide an outdoor classroom.

Spring Creek is comprised of 160 acres of diverse habitats and abundant water resources, which offer significant opportunities for habitat and native wildlife restoration. This site has the greatest potential for a combination of hydroelectric, geothermal, and solar energy.

The mountainside setting is a good solar site and also perfect for a micro-hydro system to provide for all the electrical needs and then some. An irrigated pasture is available to produce either forage for wildlife or food for people. Securing, protecting and managing the abundant water resources of Spring Creek offer a tremendous opportunity for stewardship and learning. The plan also includes reclamation of the land and conversion of the existing buildings into laboratory and classroom space.

With the conceptual designs developed, ACES can seek funding opportunities to implement construction. Once funding is obtained the necessary permits will need to be secured and construction and engineering drawings will need to be drafted. The implementation and construction of these designs will provide the mid-valley community with an enhanced natural and educational experience.