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Know the West

Private environmentalism: alive and well

  I’ve been patiently reading your teary editorials and now an entire issue on the death of environmentalism (HCN, 2/21/05: Where were the environmentalists when Libby needed them most?). Political rubbish! Talk to the private people on the ground, the people like me who are "doing it" every day, year in and year out.

I’ve put 11 years into range restoration on 8,200 acres in HCN’s backyard here in Hotchkiss, Colo. We have a "feral" buffalo herd grazing the mesa under Holistic Resource Management methodology. Fifteen to 20 percent of our staff time goes into strengthening the natural ecosystem. We’re developing safe zones with thick habitat and water for upland game birds. We’ve controlled sagebrush and planted dryland species on 3,000 acres over the past six years, bringing up new grasses in every one of the past drought years without irrigation. Our businesses include buffalo meat, buffalo leather furniture, upland game bird hunting, sporting clays, fly fishing and rafting through the Gunnison Gorge. This is how we pay for improvement costs on and stewardship of this piece of land.

I am not alone. There is an army of educated, hard-working, idealistic and practical environmentalists out here working on their own pieces of land.

Julie Littlefield,
Scenic Mesa Ranch
Hotchkiss, Colorado