To the editor,
With Earth Day on our minds and climate adaptation and resilience the new buzz words, I ask myself, what do sustainability and resilience mean to me? As a lifelong rancher in San Simon, AZ, business owner, and conservationist, my answer is multi-faceted and grounded in the definition of resilience, which is the capacity to recover quickly, also known as toughness.
Now more than ever, ranchers in the West are facing extreme drought conditions, increasing temperatures, and intense wildfire seasons. These climate factors stress not only livestock numbers and business finances but also wildlife and a landscape’s ability to remain healthy.
For example, our cattle graze in a carefully managed plan, with water sources also available to wildlife, so that the healthy cattle, forages, and wildlife can co-exist. Working with these conditions and staying solution-focused requires beginning with the end in mind, adaptability, and collaboration. I want my business decisions to positively affect the natural resources, ecological diversity, and economic viability of the lands I help manage, while raising nutritious beef.
Without managing for a healthy landscape, I will not have a healthy ranching business. Cattle ranching is a sector that is uniquely tied to the landscape and I am optimistic about the future because ranching families manage their businesses with a “leave it better than you found it” approach. While Earth Day comes once a year, every day is Earth Day for ranchers.