A group of respected ranching and conservation organizations have come together to form a unique broad based coalition to enhance ranching practices that consider important conservation issues throughout the West. The Coalition for Conservation through Ranching is a new multi-stakeholder partnership between national conservation-minded groups that share an interest in promoting open space for ranching and healthy landscapes. The recently signed agreement marks the beginning of the unique relationship. Steering committee members of the coalition include the Public Lands Council (PLC), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Family Farm Alliance (FFA) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Other organizations that have joined the coalition at this time are the American Farmland Trust, the American Forage and Grassland Council, the California Farm Bureau Federation, the Society for Rangeland Management, the Wild Sheep Foundation, and the Wilderness Society. The Bureau of Land Management serves as an advisor to the group.
“Cherished iconic western landscapes depend upon productive partnerships between ranchers and conservationists. The Coalition for Conservation through Ranching will promote solutions that will keep western landscapes healthy and in the process benefit working ranches, wildlife and other natural resources,” says Dan Grossman, Rocky Mountain Regional Director, EDF.
“Intact working ranches that are managed with wildlife in mind can help support habitat for grassland birds, mammals, and fish, all of which face uncertain prospects without the large spaces they need to survive. By working together we can encourage ranching practices that ensure the preservation of wildlife, and develop incentives that help ranchers to do so,” says Martha Kauffman, Managing Director WWF Northern Great Plains Program.
The coalition formed by six leading ranching and conservation organizations will support ranching on public and private lands in the West that is conducted in an ecologically sustainable way. “Maintaining a sustainable business environment and keeping ranchers on public lands allows our Western landscapes to remain open for wildlife habitat and recreational use and also provides for conservation efforts that might not otherwise occur,” says Skye Krebs, President of PLC and rancher from Ione, Oregon. “Together, the members of this coalition share a common interest in supporting working ranches and healthy landscapes.”
“As cattlemen, we rely on healthy land to produce healthy livestock. And one of the biggest gauges we can use to judge the health of our land is the co-existence of wildlife alongside of our livestock,” said Gary Voogt, NCBA president and rancher from Marne, Mich. “America’s farmers and ranchers are always looking for ways to increase efficiencies and build upon existing stewardship practices to keep our land and animals healthy and continue providing safe, high-quality food for America’s families. By bringing together leaders from industry and the environmental community, we can help further these goals in a way that benefits our nation’s land, animals and citizens.”
This collaborative conservation effort will provide for a more efficient use of resources, increased outreach opportunities, and a holistic approach to problem solving. It will also help to increase the understanding of complex issues between ranching and conservation and provide a forum to discuss the interaction between natural resource management and ranching.
“Conservation districts—located in nearly every county across the nation—address natural resource issues on a local level,” says NACD President Steve Robinson. “NACD is eager to collaborate with private landowners, government officials and members of this newly-formed Coalition to ensure that the health of our public and private lands is maintained and improved.”
The coalition will work on common ground issues which may include a pro-grasslands agenda, including grassland research projects, specific species conservation projects, and climate change including raising the awareness of the important role of grasslands on carbon sequestration, as well as other issues of common interest.