Conservation easements don't make the grade

  Your recent article, "Who Will Take Over The Ranch," turned out to be a big disappointment (HCN, 3/29/04: Who will take over the ranch?). The term "conservation easement" borders on being an oxymoron. In the entire article I failed to find anything that actually indicated such an easement had anything to do with conservation.

Livestock grazing apparently will continue into eternity, even if the ranch involved has been horribly abused by overgrazing for the past 100 years. No consideration is even given to the plight of an endangered species, such as the Gunnison sage grouse.

In the sidebar the writer says, "there are good reasons to believe that ranch lands provide benefits to the surrounding ecosystems." He provides no data, however, to back up his optimism. Instead he says "It’s a matter of faith and common sense." Now there’s a sterling substitute for cold hard facts!

The "conservation easement" movement is going to have to do more about conservation than stick the term in its name if it really wants to convert the skeptics. It seems to be little more than a gimmick for the rancher to make a good chunk of money out of the program while continuing to graze or (overgraze) indefinitely.

Steve Gallizioli
Fountain Hills, Arizona

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