Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Who loves ya, baby? What sage grouse really need & want

Who loves ya, baby? What sage grouse really need and want

August 11, 2009

By Julie Kay Smithson

I believe to my very core that responsible ranchers should never apologize for the many things they are doing right. Having driven many of the most rural roads of Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, etc., I have witnessed evidence of the caring these strong families have poured into these places. If anything, they must be even more dedicated to these places than the farmers of the East, because forgiving weather conditions seldom happen in the West.

It is very important to me that my research be distilled into something that offers a means for those whose very lives and multi-generational family legacies, to understand the ways in which language has been used very effectively (until now) to put them out of business and off the land.

It is something considered by very few until now -- that words on paper could be such a powerful tool when employed against their honest blood, sweat and tears equity.

The sage grouse is far more important and precious to ranchers than most of them can even put into words, because it is a species that validates their reasons for getting into ranching in the first place: to make land and water burst with abundance in the form of, not only healthy cattle ranging the West, but also the inherent beauty of the arid places in America being helped, not hurt, by men with hope in their hearts and families, too.

The sage grouse is not the only one with an historic range, a mating dance, and the bond of family and offspring. So, too, it is with the ranchers and their families sprinkled across these wide-open places with strange-sounding names that keep calling, calling those whose devotion is evidenced in streams with green along their courses. Men, women and their children still make it their life's work to be part of the abundance, a help to the flora and fauna, a foundation upon which the deer and the antelope may not only play, but may also thrive.

Unkempt places, locked down and shut down, bear silent witness to lack of stewardship. One need look no further than the difference between a working ranch where Westerners show their love in ways not seen by most, but where a quiet pride exists every corner -- and one where the land is blowin' in the wind.

Water rights, grazing rights, property rights -- these rights are never taken for granted by ranchers, who are the real environmentalists.

Just as Patrick Henry remains a building block of America with his soul-stirring words, as powerful today as they were on March 23, 1775 -- "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me: Give me liberty or give me death!" Read his entire impassioned speech here: -- so, too, our western neighbors hold true to the building blocks that feed our bodies good, healthful meat, and feed our souls the vast beauties of the places they call home, thereby keeping us free in this God-beloved land of America!

529 words.

Also posted on the Internet here: