Ranchers And Conservationists With Common Ground

It’s no secret that ranchers and conservationists have had their disagreements through the years. The two sometimes view the world in fundamentally different ways and come to fundamentally different conclusions.

But this summer I heard about an effort at the Chase Lake (N.D.) Wetland Management District that helps both livestock and nature/wildlife. I visited the district this month and found that some grassland there, for the first time in decades, is being grazed by cattle and sheep. The district manager, who works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says grazing leads to better bird habitat.

What’s more, in a separate interview, an official with the National Audubon Society tells me that his organization increasingly recognizes that prairie grass needs to be grazed.

All the old differences won’t evaporate anytime soon, if ever, of course, but it’s encouraging to see the two sides talking and working together. Read my cover story on Chase Lake in the Sept. 30 print issue of Agweek or at www.agweek.com.