Ranching, Recovery & Reason

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If you missed this post, it is worth a read for perspective either before or after the story below, and even if you do not read the story below that one should not be missed. Thanks to Cool Green Science:

Ridding the West of cattle remains a priority for some organizations and individuals. “Ranching,” the director of one prominent group told High Country News, is among “the most nihilistic lifestyles this planet has ever seen. Ranching should end. Good riddance.” Another group charges that ranching causes “desertification.” Another proclaims that “grazing spreads weeds.” Still another cites as a “myth” that “profitable livestock production and ecological preservation can coexist.”

These outfits do some good in their own ways, but they’d do lots more if they focused less on the past and more on the present. Not that there still aren’t plenty of grazing abuses, but a new generation of green ranchers are restoring grasslands, repairing watersheds, reconnecting rivers and maintaining wildlife corridors. And all ranchers, green and otherwise, preserve open space from sub-division.

Shane Rosenkrance, a fifth-generation rancher who manages the Mountain Springs Ranch in central Idaho, offers this: “For the most part the adversarial relationship with federal land managers is over. There’s a new era of cooperation. For instance, our new grazing plan called for so much monitoring that the BLM couldn’t quite do it, so I hired people to help. In the past some ranchers did monitoring to challenge federal data. I thought that was a tremendous waste of energy and time. Why not work together and do more?”

Contrast Rosenkrance’s philosophy with the old mindset as enunciated by Oakley, Idaho rancher Winslow Whiteley (1910-1995). In 1990 Whiteley hosted me at his ranch to expand on his recent interview with The New York Times, which quoted him as follows: “Either [Forest Service Ranger Don] Oman is gone or he’s going to have an accident. Myself and every other one of the permit holders would cut his throat if we could get him alone.” Oman’s offenses were that he’d scolded the Wild Rose and Goose Creek allotments for gross grazing violations and actually disciplined (albeit mildly) the Pleasant Valley C&H allotment for yet grosser violations — the first enforcement action against cattlemen in the history of the Sawtooth National Forest

Read the whole article here.

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