Western open space: Land of intrinsic worth

  • Home Land: Ranching and a West That Works

 

In some parts of the West, conversations about land use can be hazardous to your health. This time, you can leave the brass knuckles at home; all you need is a bookmark.

The writers in Home Land aren’t just old-time Westerners; they include a descendant of New York coal miners, a wildlife biologist, and a poet who moved from Wisconsin to Montana to ride broncs. These folks look at Western open space from every viewpoint you can imagine — political, emotional, economical.

But they all agree that ranching isn’t just an outmoded “lifestyle.” Responsible agriculture is our best hope for conserving Western lands that provide wildlife, food, open space, clean air, and more. And half of Western lands are public, open to all Americans. As is the case with most discussions, this one is hard to summarize and confusing in spots, but these writers are willing to negotiate the future because they love the West. Most even still have a sense of humor.

“If I’m going to survive in the twenty-first century,” says Wyoming rancher Tony Malmberg, “I need to be trilingual.” Ranchers, he explains, tell stories; the BLM wants data. And environmentalists prefer poetry.

Former Sierra Club activist Courtney White says he dropped out of the “conflict industry” to build bridges among ranchers, environmentalists, and others with the innovative Quivira Coalition. He lists the lessons that one ordinary ranching family teaches on their Durango ranch:

“Imitating nature is healthy; people like to know the source of their food; ranching with nature is socially responsible; ranching with nature gives the rancher sustainability.”

If you eat, consider this: In 2004, Americans imported more food than we exported, rendering our diet vulnerable to terrorism, among other dangers. Wildlife biologist Rick Knight notes that many Colorado ranchers have cheerfully given up, forever, the “right” to sell their land to the highest bidder — often a developer planning a subdivision — by creating a conservation easement.

Conservation, Home Land asserts, is compatible with ranching and farming; replacing farmland with subdivisions reduces our national self-sufficiency. “We lose otters and places for them to live because our economic system has been either unwilling or unable to create effective markets for these ‘good and services,’ ” says Bob Budd, ranch manager. “If the rancher who grows the hay will continue to grow otters, he should be paid for both.”

All royalties from this book go to the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust to help protect working landscapes.

Home Land: Ranching and a West That Works
Edited by
Laura Pritchett,
Richard L. Knight,
Jeff Lee
217 pages, softcover: $17.
Rocky Mountain Land Library series, with Johnson Books, 2007.

High Country News Classifieds
  • WATERSHED PROGRAMS COORDINATOR
    Are you looking for a positive and success oriented work environment, the opportunity to join a (small but) dynamic group of people supporting watershed activities...
  • BACKCOUNTRY FILM FESTIVAL MANAGER
    Boise-based Winter Wildlands Alliance is looking for an experienced and highly motivated individual to organize our annual Backcountry Film Festival and Tour and coordinate additional...
  • LAND CONSERVATION MANAGER
    SUMMARY Leads, administers and manages the land conservation, conservation easement stewardship, and property management activities of the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department within...
  • CLEAN ENERGY PROGRAM ATTORNEY, NEVADA
    Position Summary: Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is seeking a Staff Attorney who is passionate about Western communities and the protection of the natural environment to...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Deschutes River Conservancy in Bend, Oregon
  • WATER POLICY ANALYST WITH WRA (BOULDER)
    Position Summary: Western Resource Advocates seeks a passionate Water Policy Analyst with knowledge of western water issues to join our Healthy Rivers Team to strengthen...
  • GILA NATIONAL FOREST
    9+ acre inholding. Passive solar strawbale off the grid and next to the Continental Divide Trail in ponderosa pine/doug fir forest at 7400.
  • HIRING BEARS EARS EDUCATION CENTER DIRECTOR
    Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring an Education Center Director to oversee the operation of the Bears Ears Education Center....
  • PROGRAM MANAGER, SUSTAINING FLOWS
    Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • PROGRAM ASSOCIATE - VERDE RIVER EXCHANGE
    Verde River Exchange - Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • CODE COMPLIANCE OFFICER
    Teton County Planning & Building is hiring! Our ideal candidate is a team-player, a problem-solver, pays attention to detail, and can clearly communicate technical material...
  • ARCHITECTURE DRAFTSPERSON/PROJECT MANAGER
    Studio Architects is seeking a full time Architectural drafts-person/project manager with1-3 years of experience to join our firm. At Studio Architects our mission is to...
  • ASSISTANT MANAGER/TRAINEE, COLORADO RANCH
    needed for 16,000+ acre conservation property in south central Colorado. Qualified candidate would have experience working on a ranch or wilderness property, general forestry/fire management...
  • FARM HAND &/OR NANNY IN ESCALANTE
    Nanny for 18-mnth-old. Yearly salary, vacation, health insurance. Spanish/other foreign-language native spkr prefrrd.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Washington Association of Land Trusts seeks an ED to build on WALTs significant success & to lead the association to new levels of achievement. See...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    If you are deeply committed to public service and would like to become part of our high performing, passionate and diverse team, NCAT is looking...
  • BEAUTIFUL CUSTOM STRAWBALE HOME IN WESTERN COLORADO!
    Secluded, energy efficient Southwestern home on 40 wooded acres. Broker - Rand Porter - United Country Real Colorado Properties. 970-261-1248, $425K
  • FORMER RETREAT CENTER/CONSERVATION PROPERTY FOR SALE
    57 acres in Skull Valley, AZ, 17 miles from Prescott, year-round creek, swimming holes, secluded canyon, hiking/meditation trails, oaks, pines, garden, greenhouse. House, office building,...
  • HISTORIC RANCH HOME W/ 20 ACRES
    Historic 1893 Ranch Headquarters. 4 Bdrm, 3.5 Ba, 4000 ft2. Remodeled 2002. Includes 2 studio apts, stables, arena, workshop, 5 RV hookups. Chirachua & Peloncillo...
  • VICE PRESIDENT OF RETAIL OPERATIONS
    The Vice President of Retail Operations will provide overall leadership and accountability for purchasing, product development, merchandising planning, visual merchandising, retail operational excellence, oversight and...