RANCHING HISTORY

 
   
 

Ranchers were some of the first settlers in many areas of the west, and many of our ranching families today have history which traces back to some of those original ranchers,  cattlemen and cowboys. 

They were rugged men and women, unafraid of hard work and willing to face adversity.  These brave people were willing to fight to defend their ranches and protect their cattle, with their lives if necessary, and they served a significant and important role in settling this rugged and once very wild region. 

The ranchers of this county (as well as this country), have been stewards of the land for many years.  Ranching plays a significant role in maintaining open spaces.

Many people think ranchers are in the cattle business, but in reality, ranchers are in the grass and forage business.  The forage on a rancher's lands is a highly valued asset and plays a critical part of any ranching operation.  They understand, perhaps better than most people, that they must follow good management practices to maintain a productive and sustainable level of grazing and forage for their cattle.  The benefits of the ranchers' stewardship, conservation and sustainable management of rangeland extend far beyond the rancher.  These benefits extend to wildlife and to all of us.

Wilderness designation would prohibit some of the management practices currently in place that are essential for ranching operations as well as responsible stewardship of the land.  Please read the statement from the Rancher stakeholder group, presented to the City Workgroup Meeting on 11/30/06.

For those who derive their living based on long-standing legal agreements and contracts which grant property rights to ranchers and other businesses, the management burden and economic impact of forcing ranchers off the land has the potential to be devastating.

Grazing livestock is one of the oldest and most sustainable forms of agriculture known to man.  Responsible and properly managed grazing is beneficial to the land in many ways, as well as an important source of food and related animal products.  Ranching also represents an important and beneficial sector of our local, state and national economies.

 

  A BRIEF HISTORY OF RANCHING

Ranchers were some of the first settlers in many areas of the west, and many of our ranching families today have history which traces back to some of those original ranchers,  cattlemen and cowboys. 

They were rugged men and women, unafraid of hard work and willing to face adversity.  These brave people were willing to fight to defend their ranches and protect their cattle, with their lives if necessary, and they served a significant and important role in settling this rugged and once very wild region. 

The ranchers of this county (as well as this country), have been stewards of the land for many years.  Ranching plays a significant role in maintaining open spaces.

Many people think ranchers are in the cattle business, but in reality, ranchers are in the grass and forage business.  The forage on a rancher's lands is a highly valued asset and plays a critical part of any ranching operation.  They understand, perhaps better than most people, that they must follow good management practices to maintain a productive and sustainable level of grazing and forage for their cattle.  The benefits of the ranchers' stewardship, conservation and sustainable management of rangeland extend far beyond the rancher.  These benefits extend to wildlife and to all of us.

Wilderness designation would prohibit some of the management practices currently in place that are essential for ranching operations as well as responsible stewardship of the land.  Please read the statement from the Rancher stakeholder group, presented to the City Workgroup Meeting on 11/30/06.

For those who derive their living based on long-standing legal agreements and contracts which grant property rights to ranchers and other businesses, the management burden and economic impact of forcing ranchers off the land has the potential to be devastating.

Grazing livestock is one of the oldest and most sustainable forms of agriculture known to man.  Responsible and properly managed grazing is beneficial to the land in many ways, as well as an important source of food and related animal products.  Ranching also represents an important and beneficial sector of our local, state and national economies.

 

  PROPERTY RIGHTS

Many people today don't have a knowledgeable understanding of the legal relationship between the ranchers and the federal and/or state governments as it relates to public lands.  Many people do not realize that the rancher holds legal rights to graze cattle on public lands.  For more detail, read the article by Wayne Hage titled "What, Exactly, Are Public Lands".  Another valuable and informative article is by Angus McIntosh titled "The Grazing Allotment, Privilege or Right".

Mr. Mark Hillman, former Colorado state Senator, eloquently stated "When a mere majority, which has no investment of time or labor nor any legitimate stake in your property, can seize it for their own purposes or regulate it into financial ruin, property ownership has become a privilege, not a right." in a Denver Post article titled "Property rights become privileges". 

When the west was first settled, the government actively worked to protect the rancher's grazing rights.  They wanted to encourage and motivate people to begin living in the area, despite the hardships, danger and personal investment. 

By establishing the Taylor Grazing Act in 1934, the rancher was further protected when he purchased deeded acres.  The Taylor Grazing Act ensured the rancher's rights to graze cattle on the federal lands, and gave the rancher the right to fence that area in with his deeded land.

A ranch is typically comprised of the rancher's deeded acreage (land the rancher owns outright) AND the grazing rights (allotments) the rancher also owns, granting him the legal right to graze his livestock on the public land.  These property rights are considered assets by the government, and are TAXED accordingly.  Ranchers who own grazing rights and allotments on federal lands are NOT renters or tenants.  They have property rights associated with the public land. 

Like any business, ranchers are responsible for the cost of the improvements they must make to manage their ranch, even when those improvements are physically located on public land.  The property rights held by the ranchers are what ensure they will be able to realize a return on the investments they make for improvements on public land in their allotment.

Many groups proposing wilderness type designations on the public land are not giving any consideration to the property rights of the ranchers.  We hope to provide information so that people can make decisions that consider ALL of the factors involved in public land management.

Testimony by NMSU professor Dr. John Fowler to the "Public Land Grazing Task Force" dated June 15, 2000 documents how grazing cuts have been more severe in Wilderness than on comparable multiple use allotments.  Even allotments under multiple use that were located adjacent to Wilderness areas were cut more than allotments more distant from Wilderness.  Another valuable resource is the transcript of the testimony given by Mike Webster to the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests regarding H.R. 3606 and S. 3794 on September 27, 2006.  Mr. Webster is a 4th generation cattle rancher and provides a rancher's perspective on wilderness issues.