'Romantic piece of fluff'

  Dear HCN,


Your romantic piece of fluff about ranching in the San Luis Valley (HCN, 12/6/99) does a disservice to all of us who are trying to envision a positive future for the West. I have come to expect a much higher standard of journalism from you.


We must, I repeat MUST, move away from cowboy mythology. My family was uncomfortable when tourists put us on the cowboy pedestal when I was growing up on a ranch in the San Luis Valley; twenty years later, feminism taught me why. It demeans anyone to be mythologized and stereotyped, whether they are a woman, a Native American, or a rancher.


Yes, humans have a strong need to work out-of-doors with animals. Let's create jobs where people can do that without having to slaughter the animals and degrade the environment.


The San Luis Valley is not a sagebrush flat because of a lack of rainfall, as your heroine suggested. Buffalo were grazing there on waist-high grass when European settlers arrived. What happened? People plowed under the grass, planted wheat, and irrigated the soil. For a while that seemed successful. A hundred years ago, the area around Moffat produced a lot of wheat. Then the irrigation water pulled alkali salt out of the soil. Unknowingly, the settlers had turned the valley into a desert.


My parents had to sell out 25 years ago. Now the ranch I grew up on provides tax write-offs for the present owners. Is that a "higher purpose'?


Let's acknowledge that trying to raise livestock west of the rainfall line is a bust. Let's take the life support system off the dying industry, sell all the cattle and sheep one last time, have a huge feast, and then let wildlife flourish across the West again.


A West teeming with wildlife would make everyone happy, especially the people who want a job out-of-doors with animals. We could grow crops for wildlife, and veterinarians could treat their ailments. We could study them and photograph them and advertise them and protect them and hunt them and recreate among them. Who knows how many lucrative job niches they would provide?


I sure prefer that future to the pinched, defensive prospects of today's livestock ranchers.





Tori Woodard


Escalante, Utah





The writer was born and raised on the Woodard Land and Livestock Co. ranch near Saguache, Colorado.
NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • Wyoming Wildlife Federation - collaborates with the Executive Director and staff to ensure the effective implementation of all philanthropic activities. https://wyomingwildlife.org/hiring-philanthropy-coordinator/.
  • HawkWatch International is hiring an Executive Director to lead the organization. The next leader of this growing organization must have: 1. Enthusiasm for conservation, birds...
  • Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • Home Resource is a non-profit community sustainability center. We work with, in, and for the community to reduce waste and build a more vibrant and...
  • Spectacular views of snowcapped Sierras. 15 miles from Kings Canyon/Sequoia Parks. 47 acres with 2 homes/75' pool/gym/patios/gardens. 1670 sq.ft. main home has 3 bdrm/1 bath....
  • Borderlands Restoration Network 501c3 is hiring a full-time Development Director. Description and job details can be found at https://www.borderlandsrestoration.org/job-opportunities.html
  • Beautiful off-the-grid passive solar near the CDT. 9.4 acres, north of Silver City. Sam, 575.388.1921
  • The City of Fort Collins is seeking an Environmental Planning Manager in the Natural Areas Department. The Department has an annual budget of approximately $13...
  • We are seeking an experienced designer to be the team lead for web development and digital media. Part creator and part planner, this person should...
  • at RCAC. See the full description at https://bit.ly/2WJ3HvY Apply at [email protected]
  • The Utah Rivers Council is looking for an energetic individual with strong communication and organizing skills. The Grassroots Organizer works to ensure our campaigns are...
  • Newly refurbished and tuned. Older model, great condition. Gasoline engine. Chains on tires. Heavy duty for mountain snow. Call cellphone and leave message or email.
  • Hiring a part-time ranch manager to live on The Nature Conservancy's Carpenter Ranch property in Hayden, CO. Responsibilities include: facility maintenance of historic ranch house,...
  • unique custom home in Sangre de Cristo Mountains of CO near La Veta Pass, 3 bed, 2 1/2 bath, private gated park, two hours from...
  • Kaniksu Land Trust, a community-supported non-profit land trust serving north Idaho and northwest Montana, is in search of a new executive director. The ideal candidate...
  • The Flathead Lakers are seeking a dynamic, self-motivated and proven leader to be our next Executive Director (ED).
  • The Blackfoot Challenge, a renowned collaborative conservation org in MT, seeks our next ED.
  • 10-day tour from Los Mochis airport, 2/nyts El Fuerte, train, 2/nyts canyon rim hotel, 5/nyts camping. 520-324-0209, www.coppercanyontrails.org.
  • Earthjustice is hiring for a Staff Attorney
  • to lead an organization that funds projects in National Parks. Major gift fundraising and public lands experience critical. PD and app details @ peopleinparks.org.