As the average age of working landowners increases and younger generations increasingly choose jobs and lives in more urban or populated areas, the rural landscape is changing. And just as often as these changes present challenges, they present opportunities. While in Maine this spring, we visited two working farms that have addressed these types of challenges with creativity, making each challenge an opportunity to build community and connection around working lands: Wolfe’s Neck in Freeport and Aldermere Farm in Rockport.
At the recent Western Landowners Alliance Land & Livelihoods conference in Billings, Montana, Burke Teichert shared his thoughts and insights on what he calls the Systems Approach to land and cattle. The rules of thumb and short lists provided by Teichert distill a complex subject and complicated processes down to tangible action items and measurable indicators of performance. All of Teichert’s tools and rules really speak to the larger topic of profitable decision making.
Did you know that for nearly a century, San Antonio was the largest city on the western frontier? Or that Texas is the only state to have farm to market roads? Our recent visit to the Witte Museum's Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center immersed us in the culture and history of ranching in South Texas.
As part of their devotion to "the inextricable link between the public lands surrounding our private working lands", the Lemhi Land Trust joined forces with The Nature Conservancy and Pioneer Mountain Group to create the Central Idaho Rangelands Network to encourage collaboration and rangeland monitoring across a large landscape with diverse public and private ownership in Central Idaho.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail, the most famous cow path in history. In the late 1800s, approximately five million head of cattle were trailed from Texas right through Bell County, where our founder and leader Kelly Beevers grew up, to railheads in Kansas.
We work to preserve and utilize the distinctiveness of place in large part to honor and integrate heritage. In doing so we connect people and strengthen our communities. Though we are based in Montana, work largely in the Northern Rockies, and focus our efforts in the American West, Kelly's roots reach down to Central Texas.
Data from rangeland studies in both Oregon and New Mexico supports grazing as a strategy to promote ecological resiliency. Grazing can be used to manage and promote perennial grasses. In a study focusing on The Great Basin area, researchers found that the fuel moisture of un-grazed rangeland was 21% whereas the same fuel moisture of properly grazed rangeland was over double that at 46%.
Because the ways in which land is managed affects the future ability to utilize the land, there's a case to be made to consider adaptive management today to best plan for tomorrow. By definition adaptive management is simply the systematic approach for improving resource management by learning from management outcomes.