Letter: Not all ranchers oppose 30×30
This letter is in response to the Vail Daily article on April 25 by John LaConte regarding the Western Slope listening session with Rep. Joe Neguse on the 30×30 conservation initiative, which I attended and spoke at. The article paints all ranchers as opposed to the goals of the 30×30, an assertion I take issue with.
I married into a Colorado ranching family who has farmed, ranched, and used public lands for cattle grazing for multiple generations. My own family ranches in the Thompson Divide near Carbondale, a mid-elevation landscape that provides irrigation water for my household, livestock, and crops while also supporting wildlife, recreation, and grazing. Ranchers and others have been working to gain permanent protection for the region for over a decade and the Thompson Divide is a perfect example of a landscape that would benefit from 30×30.
As a Western Slope rancher, I support the ambitious conservation goals of the 30×30 plan and it’s why I spoke in support of the initiative at Rep. Neguse’s listening session. Holding all public land users to a strong standard of care is not an “insult,” as one rancher expounded, but a way to maintain and restore productive, healthy public lands. Stewardship of our lands and waters is essential for these life-giving and finite resources.
The agricultural and conservation communities are not two groups at odds with each other, as this article portrayed. We are one community with varying needs and uses of our public lands. Ultimately these are our public lands and we need to protect and preserve them for our own uses, our children’s future, and the health of our environment. Efforts like 30×30 can bring everyone together to find solutions that will allow us to protect these valuable resources into the future.