Western Landowners in Action
Winter 2017 Newsletter
In a time when political power struggles inside the Beltway seem to have left the interests of average Americans far behind, many ranchers, farmers, industry groups and conservation organizations in the West are stepping forward to find and hold common ground.
In this issue of WLA's newsletter, you will find a values statement representing 130 diverse organizations across the West. We also report on events in rural regions where landowners and organizations have come together to forge positive, cooperative solutions to deep challenges. And, if you haven't spent time with them yet, we encourage you to read our recent publication, "Speaking from Experience: Landowner Perspectives on the Endangered Species Act" and to watch our recent film about one rancher's work to save the Armagosa toad, improve his local economy and restore a valley.
If you want relief from polarizing media bombardment and a renewed sense of hope, look here. If you want to help drive positive change, get involved!
Broad New Alliance Emerges for a Healthy and Productive West
Western Landowners Alliance, Family Farm Alliance, Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition, and Partners for Conservation have come together with a set of messages to federal officials in Washington D.C.: In a letter signed by more than 130 diverse organizations and ranches, we have identified and agreed on common-sense principles that are key to ensuring the Western United States can successfully produce and conserve our nation’s natural resources in a responsible and sustainable manner.
Embedded in the letter are six core principles that should be the cornerstone of policies coming out of Washington DC:
- Working lands, human communities and wild places are all important and interdependent. Their health must be protected and advanced together.
- Ecosystem productivity, social equity and economic well-being go hand-in-hand. Good public policy builds on and reinforces these linkages.
- Large-scale resource planning that is cross-boundary and inclusive, and science and place-based, is essential.
- Cooperative management of private and public lands is good for business, public health and species conservation. It is therefore essential that large-scale resource planning be coordinated across boundaries, inclusive, place-based and informed by science.
- Voluntary, market- and incentive-based programs provide key economic support that enables landowners to participate in conservation, diversify their operations and help keep landscapes intact.
- Hope for rural America lies in collaboration, common sense and non-partisan solutions that ensure sustainable working lands and diverse new economies.
“Often led by ranchers and farmers, place-based collaboration has evolved over the past several decades as a successful way to resolve long-standing conflicts over resource use,” said WLA's executive director, Lesli Allison. “While there will always be issues on which we disagree, it is not the issues themselves that define our communities and our future, but the way in which we engage on them together.”
Steve Jester, executive director for Partners for Conservation agreed. “We need to work together to ensure functional landscapes and viable rural communities are the norm across the country,” he said. “Collaboration should be the first choice when addressing hard issues with multiple private and public stakeholders.”
Karen Hardigg, director of the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition underscored that policy makers have an essential role to play. “Congress and the Administration can spark rural prosperity by investing in solutions that revitalize communities and create jobs through land stewardship,” she said.
The organizations are encouraging elected and appointed federal officials to listen directly to the people who live and work in the rural landscapes of the West and who are finding positive, collaborative paths toward a productive and healthy West.
Read our joint op-ed here: http://www.dailyyonder.com/strength-in-numbers/2017/10/23/21901/
Read an article in the Deseret News here: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900002099/diverse-group-urges-cooperation-in-divisive-western-lands-debate.html
Read the editorial endorsement from the Deseret News here: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865690934/In-our-opinion-We-support-coalition-efforts-in-Western-lands-debate.html
Ranchers seek solutions for co-existence as wolf and grizzly populations rise
Hilary Anderson, a rancher in the Tom Minor Basin in Montana, describes range riding techniques her community is using to limit conflicts with wolves and grizzlies in the region.
While an increasing number of ranchers are using range riders, guard dogs and other strategies, success varies and some ranchers are experiencing significant losses despite these efforts. At a WLA-hosted forum this summer, ranchers from the northern Rockies came together with scientists to learn from one another and explore options.
Landowners agree compensatory mitigation essential to sustaining working lands and wildlife
Mitigation bankers, non-profit organizations and landowners met in August in Missoula for a WLA-hosted forum on federal mitigation policy.
Earlier this year, Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently declared compensatory mitigation strategies to be "un-American", yet landowners, sportsmen, conservation organizations and mitigation bankers who gathered at the forum strongly disagree. Read our joint letter to Secretary Zinke on mitigation policy.
Economics are key in balancing production and conservation on working lands
Nelson Shirley of the Spur Lake Cattle Company, Gary Burnett of the Blackfoot Challenge, Tom Page of the Big Creek Ranch and Jeff Laszlo of the Granger Ranches discuss working land economics and Farm Bill policy at a WLA forum in Missoula.
Working lands provide not only food, fiber, recreation and scenery but also ecological values and functions essential to both people and wildlife. As more land is lost to development each year, the remaining intact lands are under increasing pressure to conserve and deliver all of these values. Because most ranches and farms are businesses which support both individual livelihoods and rural communities, economics are a key consideration in balancing conservation and production. The forum was part of a WLA initiative on working lands economics which will also include an upcoming publication and conference.
WLA encourages Secretary Zinke to honor years of collaboration on sage grouse
As the Department of the Interior re-evaluates it's strategy on sage grouse conservation, WLA co-hosted a Colorado landowner forum with US Cattlemen's Association on the subject and encouraged Secretary Zinke to honor the years of collaborative work and good faith landowners and other stakeholders have invested in plans to save the bird. Read WLA's letter here.
Landowners seek solutions to managing changing forests
WLA hosted a forestry tour with the Colorado State Land Board, Colorado State Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife in which landowners and agency personnel explored the outcomes of various forest treatments over time.
WLA has worked with the Western Governors Association, Forests in the Farm Bill Coalition and other partners to help address the challenges landowners face in forest management. Read WLA's op-ed on forests in the Farm Bill here. Learn more about WLA's work on forest issues here.
Greg Moore provides insights into his management on the Moore Land and Cattle Company in New Mexico, which has included prescribed fire, rotational grazing cultural preservation and wildlife habitat restoration.
WLA hosted and co-sponsored six field events in 2017 in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana in which landowners had the opportunity to learn from one another and from subject matter experts. Visit WLA's blog to learn more.
WLA's Latest Film
If you haven't seen it yet, enjoy the latest episode of "Stewardship with Vision" featuring Nevada rancher David Spicer and his quest to save an imperiled toad. These films are produced in partnership with Montana State University’s graduate program in Science & Natural History Filmmaking. This episode, produced by Jason Roehrig, won the 2017 "Student Film of the Year" from the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival. Earlier episodes are featured at the bottom of this newsletter and keep an eye out for Episode 6, currently in production.
WLA and members in the news
WLA has recently been featured by a number of media sources, including the Denver Business Journal, The Washington Post, E&E News, Casper Star Tribune, Deseret News, Albuquerque Journal, Santa Fe New Mexican and the Missoulian, among others. WLA members across the West have also been in the news for everything from wetland restoration to jaguar recovery to the Mexican border wall. Read more at the WLA in the News section of our website.
REASONS TO JOIN WLA
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