Rural Landscape Institute director Bill Bryan told Wilkinson that the old way of ranching is "giving way to a new paradigm," one that says raising animals to eat doesn't have to be at odds with protecting the environment. Wilkinson reports some of the biggest landowners in the West, including Ted Turner and John Malone, who own a combined 4.3 million acres, are embracing aspects of this paradigm. The "sustainable ranching movement" now has members in every Western state, Wilkinson reports.
Zachary Jones, right, manager and rancher of Twodot Land and Livestock Co., gave one example of his departure from the old ways of ranching: Rather than allowing cattle to graze on pastures unattended until vegetation is nearly gone, which can lead to greater dependence on expensive hay, antibiotics and pesticides, Jones fences his cattle into smaller areas with portable electric fences and only allows the cows to chews grass to a certain height, then shifts them to another areas.
While it may seem like just a fad connected to the overall "green movement," Wilkinson reports sustainable ranching "has been practiced in the region since the conquistadors." As Jones told Wilkinson: "Being a smart rancher – one who's still going to be here in another 50 years ... comes down to how you treat the land and build resilience over time that matters. In particular, it's about how well you manage grass and water." (Read more)