Friday, October 3, 2014

Ranchers v. the U.S. Army and what it revealed.

My mother in law loaned me a copy of Cowboy magazine, which had been loaned to her, and asked me to read an article in it.  The article concerned efforts of southern Colorado ranchers to resist an effort by the Army to expand the training ranges associated with Ft. Carson, following up on a successful Army effort to do that earlier. The net result of the effort would have made approximately 10% of Colorado a training range.

What was so interesting about the article is what ranchers and those who spend a lot of time on ranches already know.  Ranching is sustainable by its very nature, and by extension, it preserves wildlands.  Opponents of ranching like to claim its destructive to the land, but in fact, as the article points out, profit margins in ranching are so low that a person has to be absolutely attune to the land to make it work, and by extension, that preserves it.  This is particularly the case for multi-generational ranching, which in most places in the west, is what we have.

What the article also pointed out, and what is also true, is that even though ranchers know this, there's a deep sense of suspicion on their part that generally prevents scientist from coming in and studying this. That did happen here, but only because some dynamic organizers got it done.  Otherwise, the story that the land was tired, the ranchers wanted out, and the Army would be better stewards of the land and cultural artifacts would have prevailed.  Ranchers should take note of this everywhere.

Now, like the ranchers in this story themselves, I have to note that preserving the land for agriculture does not make a person unpatriotic.  These guys weren't opposing national defense, they were preserving the land and their living, and that's what everyone is fighting for.

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