Environmentalists Hail the Ranchers: Howdy, Pardners!
The New York Times; September 10, 2002
Writing from New Mexico and other points in the American West, reporter Jon Christensen offers a refreshing change from some political and journalistic stereotypes. Environmentalists often demonize grazing as destructive of land and ecosystems -- often with much justification -- and journalists often just quote them without applying their own eyes and ears. "For decades, environmentalists have tried to limit grazing from public lands, where ranchers lease pastures from the government," Christensen writes. "But some scientists and conservationists are now saying that cattle ranches may be the last best hope for preserving habitat for many native species." While acknowledging that grazing can be destructive, Christensen raises two points. First, that the unsuppressed wildfire upon which so many western ecosystems depend is far more feasible on wide-open ranches than on land that has been developed with valuable structures. Second, that ranch tracts spreading over tens or hundreds of thousands of acres are far more likely to offer endangered species the continuous ecosystems they need than is land fragmented to accommodate development.
October 11, 2002