'Our first focus is the landowner'

  • Lynne Sherrod

  • Jay Fetcher

    Florence Williams photo
 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

The Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust is the first land trust founded by agricultural producers. Jay Fetcher, a rancher in Colorado's Yampa Valley, hit on the idea of a cattlemen's land trust when he and his family put an easement on their land in 1994. With the cooperation of the Colorado Cattlemen's Association, the trust was incorporated in 1995, and executive director Lynne Sherrod, also a Colorado rancher, was hired in 1997. The group has protected 28,000 acres of land with conservation easements.

Lynne Sherrod: "I sometimes feel a little schizophrenic: I'm very much part of the land-trust community, and very much part of the livestock industry. I go to an equal number of meetings and conferences on both sides of the fence. It's very important for us to be responsible members of the land-trust community, for us to play by the same rules.

"Most other (land trust) organizations have a focus on the resource, but our first focus is on the landowner. Our main thrust is that we want to make sure that landowner needs are met, that this is going to be a valuable working landscape. We don't want to tie their hands so severely that they can't stay in the business of agriculture."

Jay Fetcher: "A lot of land trusts, especially those in the East, were very interested in land management. I knew that would never work in the West, both because of the nature of the landowners and the nature of the ranching business. Yet here was a tool that I thought would be useful to Colorado ranchers.

"People in land trusts could see that a land trust put together by a commodity group would bridge the suspicion that often exists between landowners and the typical land trust, which grows out of the environmental community. Another thing that added a level of comfort (for landowners) is that the board of the land trust is controlled by the Colorado Cattlemen's Association. So the board is made up of peers.

"When we started out, we drew a lot of the investor ranchers, those that were attracted by the tax breaks. We're still working with some of those, but we're mostly working with struggling landowners, those who are land rich and cash poor, but want to keep the land intact.

"I had no idea that we'd be where we are now. I thought we'd be working with 15 or 20 ranchers around the state. I had no idea that Lynne and I would be flying all over the country, being asked to change policy on conservation easements at the national level."

High Country News Classifieds
  • NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
    All positions available: Sales Representative, Accountant and Administrative Assistant. As part of our expansion program, our University is looking for part time work from home...
  • COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Position Title: Communications Associate Director Location: Flexible within the Western U.S., Durango, CO preferred Position reports to: Senior Communications Director The Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF)...
  • HISTORIC HOTEL & CAFE
    For Sale, 600k, Centennial Wyoming, 6 suites plus 2 bed, 2 bath apartment. www.themountainviewhotel.com Make this your home or buy a turn key hotel [email protected]
  • MAJOR GIFTS OFFICER
    High Country News, an award-winning news organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Major Gifts Officer to join our...
  • RUBY, ARIZONA CARETAKER
    S. Az ghost town seeking full-time caretaker. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • VICE PRESIDENT, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION
    Basic Summary: The Vice President for Landscape Conservation is based in the Washington, D.C., headquarters and oversees Defenders' work to promote landscape-scale wildlife conservation, focusing...
  • BRISTOL BAY PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Seeking a program director responsible for developing and implementing all aspects of the Alaska Chapter's priority strategy for conservation in the Bristol Bay region of...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The National Bighorn Sheep Center is looking for an Executive Director to take us forward into the new decade with continued strong leadership and vision:...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Powder Basin Watershed Council, based in Baker City, Oregon, seeks a new Executive Director with a passion for rural communities, water, and working lands....
  • CLEAN ENERGY PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Type: Permanent, fulltime Reports to: Executive Director Travel: Some overnight travel, both in-state and out-of-state required Compensation (beginning): $44,000 to 46,500/yr., DOE plus excellent benefits...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Powder River Basin Resource Council, a progressive non-profit conservation organization based in Sheridan, Wyoming, seeks an Executive Director, preferably with grassroots organizing experience, excellent communication...
  • ADOBE HOME
    Passive solar adobe home in high desert of central New Mexico. Located on a 10,000 acre cattle ranch.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition, based in Ely, Nevada is looking for a new executive director to replace the long-time executive director who is retiring at...
  • STEVE HARRIS, EXPERIENCED PUBLIC LANDS/ENVIRONMENTAL ATTORNEY
    Comment Letters - Admin Appeals - Federal & State Litigation - FOIA -
  • LISA MACKEY PHOTOGRAPHY
    Fine Art Gicle Printing. Photo papers, fine art papers, canvas. Widths up to 44". Art printing by an artist.
  • LOG HOME IN THE GILA WILDERNESS
    Beautiful hand built log home in the heart of the Gila Wilderness on five acres. Please email for PDF of pictures and a full description.
  • CARETAKER
    2.0 acre homestead needing year-round caretaker in NE Oregon. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • SEEKING PROPERTY FOR BISON HERD
    Seeking additional properties for a herd of 1,000 AUM minimum. Interested in partnering with landowners looking to engage in commercial and/or conservation bison ranching. Location...
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.