Ranch E-news: Tools and Resources for Today's Ranchers

 Winter 2010

In this issue:

   Lee Cornwell quote 

Montana: Conserving a Sea of Grass

As the crow flies, Lee Cornwell lives more than 1,000 miles from the nearest ocean, but when he rides across the family’s ranch in north central Montana, he feels like he’s in the middle of the sea. 

In the summer, he even shares it with some beloved shorebirds. Long-billed curlews, which spend winter along the coasts of Texas, Mexico and California, nest and fledge their young in Montana’s Northern Prairies—on ranches just like the Cornwells.’

By placing nearly 11,300 acres of the family ranch under an easement with The Nature Conservancy, the family is helping protect a whole host of endangered grassland birds. But it’s the threat to family ranching that really motivated the Cornwells’ decision.

“With this easement, the land will stay valued as agriculture, so we can afford to pass it along to our kids. That’s really why we’re doing it, to make sure that the next generation can live this great life,” says Lee Cornwell.

Cornwell’s grandfather started the ranch in 1892, and the fourth generation is already actively managing operations.

“We’re making sure it stays the way it was when my grandfather settled it…we want it to stay in grass.”

And both the next generations and wildlife benefit from that decision.

Read more about the Cornwells’ ranch and its wildlife

Conservation Highlights
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Arlen, new Conservation Initiatives Director
  Fostering the Next Generation
Wyoming: The Conservancy's new Conservation Initiatives Director on his return to the West, fostering Wyoming’s future land stewards, and the importance of finding common ground.
native Hawaiian plant
  Back from the Brink
Hawaii: A native Hawaiian plant that had not been seen in a century and was presumed extinct is rediscovered on Parker Ranch lands on the island of Hawai‘i.
  Steering Toward Sustainability
California: For 150 years, Darrell Wood and his forebears have sustained family ranching operations in northern California. The Conservancy partners were honored for an entirely different type of sustainability when they won the 2009 National Environmental Stewardship Award at the 2010 Cattle Industry Annual Convention, beating out nearly 200 other nominees from around the United States.
ranchers on horseback
  Ranchers Reach Out from Across the Globe
Argentina/China: Big expanses, arid lands, strong winds and intensive sheep and goat livestock are just some of the similarities Chinese and Argentinean grasslands share. As a result, a delegation from China visited the Conservancy’s Patagonian Grasslands of Argentina Conservation Project to launch an official knowledge-sharing exchange between the two countries.

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Voices from the Land
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Video: Cowgirl Conservation
What’s it like to run cattle on Utah’s Dugout Ranch, where scientists and ranchers are seeking solutions for a changing climate and landscape? Saddle up with longtime rancher Heidi Redd to find out.
Rancher Heidi Redd
Video: Talking Straight About a Conservation Easement
Wyoming rancher Mike Healy answers the critical question, "What changes when you decide to place a conservation easement on the land you love?"
Video: It all Started with a Wayward Cow
Many grasslands in the U.S. have been tilled or converted. Not the Jumping Cow Ranch in Colorado. Watch a video of the ranch owner as he talks about his connection to conservation.
GrantThayer, owner, JumpingCowRanch

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Bulletin board


How to Save the Grasslands: Bring in More Cattle
Western grasslands are home to herds of cattle and the cowboys who run them. Many ranchers, conservationists and investors are determined to revive this magical and (once) highly productive landscape—and have embarked on doing so by increasing the density of livestock. Will it work?

Read the full story and see the photo essay in TIME.

Are You a Real Rancher?
Take a virtual visit to Wyoming’s working ag lands. RealRanchers.com is a “visit to the day-to-day lives of America’s original animal welfare advocates and environmentalists.”


Parting Shot


Ranchers - Jack DAllen Kirk

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Ranch e-News is an effort of the Conservancy's Rocky Mountain Communications Network: "Working with and learning from people who make their living on the land."

Ranchers around the world work with the Conservancy. If you would like to talk with a rancher in your area, tell us a story about your ranch, comment on this issue or receive more information, please e-mail us at ranchenews@tnc.org.

“No kinder place exists than those where
land, laughter and the day stretch long.”

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Photo Credits: © Madylon Cornwell (header images: horses on the ranch; front gate of Cornwell Ranch by moonlight); © Staci Lancaster (TNC's Conservation Initiatives Director, Arlen Lancaster); © Rob Shallenberger (Clermontia Flower, native Hawaiian plant); © Clinton Smith (Rancher, Darrell Wood); © Francisco Bedeschi (Gauchos in the Patagonian pampas); © Tedd Wood (Rancher, Heidi Redd); ©TNC (Video); © Madylon Cornwell (Parting shot); © TNC (Video);  Quote - source unknown.  

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