During the last 15 years of my 27 years as a fish and wildlife biologist, I came to realize that good range conservationists in the Bureau of Land Management can do more for our public lands than all other disciplines combined.
For reader-clarity sake: A "good" range con is one who constantly and effectively protects the natural values of our public lands. A "poor" range con sacrifices the resource for personal benefits while "mediocre" ones waffle.
This hypothesis culminated recently when I visited with a range con I'd worked with in the Worland, Wyo., BLM district during the mid-'80s. What impressed me the most was the matter-of-fact attitude he showed while relating progress they had made in bringing livestock numbers and seasons of use into proper balance with the available forage production as identified in the range management plan. His determination was apparent when he also said that all the remaining allotments were on a schedule and it was only a matter of time.
What distressed me was his burn-out as a result of years of conflict with irate ranchers and within the agency. Here was another good range con who wanted to bail out at the first opportunity.
That's why I write: I encourage all the good range cons - and you know who you are - to stick with your vocation. There are many jobs in the field of natural resources that are easier and pay the same or even more. None, however, allow you to have such a visible, long-term, positive impact on millions of acres of land during your career.
Richard "Dick" Kroger
Wood Lake, Minnesota
On Dick Kroger's business card a medieval English quatrain is quoted: "The law locks up both man and woman who steals the goose from off the common, but lets the greater felon loose who steals the common from the goose."