The Gerbaz Ranch, situated between State Highway 82 and the Roaring Fork River, was once a successful agricultural and ranching operation. In the 1980s, work on the state highway system necessitated the development of an asphalt plant on the property.
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In the mid-1990s, private owners purchased the property, which was now a deserted and polluted industrial site. Dilapidated cabins, memories of the successful ranching history, were scattered across the property. Years of industrial use left the ground compacted and impenetrable, causing asphalt construction waste to run into the clean Roaring Fork River.
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The sustainable redevelopment of the site focused on cleaning up industrial waste, creating natural water storage systems, restoring the natural functioning of local ecosystems, and preserving its historical significance.
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Piles of left-over asphalt were re-used as the base of the new entrance driveway, keeping waste out of the Roaring Fork River. The thoughtful re-design of roads without any type of curb allows rainwater to flow into the landscape and absorb naturally into the ground.
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The landscape is also required to function as a holding facility for the local village’s water supply. Integrated into the overall design, streams and multiple ponds, like the one seen above, serve as water storage. New man-made wetlands and pond aeration systems increase the water quality.
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The ranch features a submerged landscape to foster healthy aquatic life. The shadows of aquatic vegetation, such as willows and cattails, cultivate a native fish habitat in the water below. The placement of rocks and fallen timbers mimics the landscape of the nearby Roaring Fork River.
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Neglectful treatment of the land during its industrial period led to the widespread growth of invasive species. A restored landscape layered with streams, meadows, and groves helped rehabilitate the local ecosystem. The reintroduction of native species such as red-twig dogwoods and wild flowers adds color and variety to the space.
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In stark contrast to the neighboring highways, the ponds, streams, and native vegetarian create a visual display that captures seasonal changes and encourages visitors to connect with nature. The old ranch buildings left on the site are now refurbished and reintegrated into the landscape to honor the historical significance of the site.
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