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Conservation and Stewardship

Written by Meredith Ellis, G Bar C Ranch

Photo provided by Noble Research Institute

With climate change as the growing issue of our time, I would like the world to remember our original conservationists.  Those deeply connected to the land that their families have taken care of for generations; who provide safe harbor for endangered species; provide clean water for others downstream; keep pollinators busy for eleven months out of the year, know where the deer bed down at night, what species of flowers and songbirds signal the coming of spring, or the effect phases of the moon have on nocturnal species.  Not only are these people responsible for safekeeping all the wildlife that call their properties home, they are responsible for the food we eat. These are ranchers. With the dwindling amount of virgin grasslands in North America, their importance cannot be overstated. 

As a 2nd generation rancher, I approach my job with conservation and climate at the foremost of my mind.  Like so many other ranchers, I know that the profitability of my operation, and health of my livestock is directly tied to the health of the ecosystem that I maintain.  Because people buy my beef, I am able to keep my land, and in turn protect countless species that would otherwise be displaced or paved over by asphalt. I take pride in the fact that I listen to nature and my only real job is to maintain that symbiosis between ruminant animals and the ecosystem they have co-evolved in for a millennia. 

But I don’t go at it alone.  During my time as a rancher, I have collaborated with a wide variety of organizations comprised of scientists, researchers, botanists, wildlife consultants and the like.  I am involved with organizations that represent all aspects of land management and food production, and seek to further my reach to find more ideas and solutions to the challenges we face far into the future.  I sincerely believe in the value of a rich variety of opinions, professions, and viewpoints, and the potential in such an atmosphere. 

I am not alone in this mindset. Countless ranchers have long employed the advice and direction of organizations such as the NRCS, Noble Research Institute, or Nature Conservancy.  The result of such collaboration is a well-informed practice on the ranch level and a better understanding of the ephemeral, the fleeting, the seemingly insignificant things that actually play a critical role in our planet as a whole, as a connected system. 

The general public buying their food at the store needs to know that there are so many people behind that steak that are sincere in their efforts to not only make a better, nutritious product, but a healthier world for us all.

I close with a thought:  Think of the value that we place on our national parks.  When we think of Yellowstone for example, there is an element of the extraordinary.  These are sacred places. What about our privately held national parks? My 3000 acres are sacred to me.  They are sacred to all the living things that call it home, and they should be sacred to us all.

Ranchers have an important job of feeding the world, and now with the issues that face our globe, through a collaborative effort across all disciplines, they could very well be the ones to save it.

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