Ranchettes aren't all bad

  Dear HCN,

My pet peeve is the anti-ranchette bias I see in almost every issue of High Country News. Granted, some ranchettes, just as some ranches, are environmental destabilizers, but most probably serve to increase environmental awareness, just as most ranchers who work with the land amid weather and wildlife have far more respect for the earth than most city dwellers. I have seen developments of 35-acre parcels where the builder constructed all houses on the easiest-to-access meadows and stream sides, but I have also visited plats where the development was left to individuals.

Many of these modern-day homesteaders camped on the parcels or visited regularly and made no construction plans until they'd seen at least a year of seasonal changes in their personal wilderness. Then they built homes that would least impact the elk, bear, mountain lion and the watershed and ecosystem they depend on. While some people are buying country homes to get away from problems (which they merely bring with them), I believe most of us purchasing property do so with an eye toward the land, not a lifestyle.

As with most political/social problems, the instigators and solvers are not categories such as developer or rancher or publisher. They are individuals, some being part of the problem, some part of the solution. For example, one "bad" ranchette owner will do less damage than a single "bad" rancher. Perhaps carving up that ranch into 35-acre ranchettes full of owners who love their land will cause less environmental damage. And it may provide a lot more votes and tax dollars for like-minded politicians.

Mike Moxcey

Fort Collins, Colorad
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