Nature Noted

Notes on a changing Nature

Location: Bellville, Texas, United States

I never would have predicted this one

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Green Ranches

The Green Ranching movement is getting a little bit of buzz this week. The Arizona Republic has the story of how the Grand Canyon Trust and the Conservation Fund have become among the biggest ranch owners in Arizona.
In one of the largest deals of its kind, Two Mile Ranch and neighboring Kane Ranch were sold last year to Grand Canyon Trust and the Conservation Fund, environmental groups trying to position themselves on the leading edge of the so-called green ranch movement.
Guided by a detailed ecological study of the ranches and the accompanying grazing allotments, the groups want to restore depleted springs and forest areas and drive out invasive weeds and shrubs. They plan to unleash an army of volunteers to clean up the battered rangelands that sit along the Grand Canyon and include some of the West's most iconic landscapes.
Amid those audacious plans, ranching will continue. As much as the groups might like to end ranching on their corner of the plateau, they can't. Federal laws don't allow a new owner to take over grazing permits and just not use them, which means the trust and the fund must buy cattle and run a ranch on nearly 850,000 acres of high Arizona desert.
They also must work within federal land-management rules. The groups own fewer than 1,100 acres; the rest is public land, open to recreation, to hunting and still subject to laws that were written to encourage multiple uses.
The groups, which have questioned the value of open-range grazing in the past, see the irony of their situation and often point it out themselves.
"We still think we're the best option out there," said Rick Moore, director of the Kane and Two Mile ranch program for the trust. "For a traditional permit-holder, the tendency might be to graze more cows. We can do the opposite. We're driven by ecological needs, not economic. We can put money back into the land because we're not trying to put kids through college."

Meanwhile, the San Diego Union-Tribune has a nice column on Green Ranching... noting similar efforts in California..
Times are slowly changing.
Capitalizing on growing public concern about food safety, some ranchers now specialize in grass-fed beef. Rather than spending their last months in feedlots shot full of antibiotics, these cattle live more like their 19th century ancestors. A recent tax-code provision (some call it a loophole) encourages ranchers to go organic, to keep grasslands free of herbicides and pesticides – and out of development. In the past, environmental groups have mostly opposed range grazing, a position that, ironically, has put them at odds with the organic, grass-fed beef proponents. But that predisposition may be moderating.
In 1997, ranchers formed the nonprofit, rancher-run California Rangeland Trust, primarily to keep rangelands in agriculture. "As California's population continues to grow, ranchers should begin to recognize the value of undisturbed landscapes to those seeking experiences outside of their urban environment," according to a report by the University of California's Integrated Hardwood Range Management Program, which praises the trust – and then adds a twist:
Much of the state's native grassland vegetation evolved in the presence of grazing animals – and may be genetically programmed for grazing. "To be sure, cattle are not the same as mastodons, camels, ancient horses and bison that once grazed here, but their use of the land may better reflect that historical use than if they are excluded entirely," according to the report.
No question about it, better grazing techniques are needed, but cows certainly pose less of a threat to grassland or oak forests than do housing tracts.

And this weekend, the Quivira Coalition will have its 5th annual conference in Albuquerque, "Bridging the Urban - Rural Divide: Reconnecting People to Land and Each Other..
Courtney White and the Quivira Coalition have been the biggest proponents of the notion that there's a place for ranching and good environmental practices to coexist... living in the Radical Center. The conference has an impressive agenda and list of speakers. If you happen to be hanging out in New Mexico this weekend with nothing to do, go check it out. It's all the buzz.


Blogger montosacanyonranch said...

The ranches with green are the beauty overloaded in this place and seems to be very beautiful.

Southeast Arizona Ranches for sale

6:43 AM  

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