Particular attention was given to preserving as many of the old-growth trees as possible. In fact, says Engle, the environmental ethic is literally "built into" the development. "The trees we did have to cut when we built roads were set aside and seasoned for two years and recycled as timber in the construction of the children's recreational complex."

In Montana, Charles Schwab, the discount brokerage pioneer, cofounded the Stock Farm Club with the premise that open space is a valuable commodity and must never be compromised. Of course, for Schwab, who owns a nearby ranch, and cofounder Jim Schueler, who owns Rocky Mountain Log Homes (a fixture in the neighborhood), preserving the character of the property was also a personal matter.

"Environmentally, it was a no-brainer," says Schwab. "It's our home. It's our ­backyard. The conservation interests were ours. The elk herd is a local treasure. The intention from the start was to let the land kind of breathe. It was also obvious that the Stock Farm would appeal to folks who could pay for the privilege of preserving what's here."

Letting the land breathe, says Schueler, meant capping the number of home sites at 95 and the cluster of log homes at 30, while setting aside 1,600 of the 2,600 acres for the elk herd that winters here. As for the golf course, all native plants removed during construction were preserved and replanted, with only the minimum amount of acreage in fairways and greens kept manicured and watered. (The trade-off there, Schueler concedes with a smile, is that golfers rarely recover shots sliced into the adjacent sagebrush hills.)