Common Ground

Wanting One Goal for One Piece of Land

Added 20 February 1997, last revised 22 February 1997

I would like to begin this section with a tribute. During the course of my research on the subject of public lands grazing, I happened upon a fantastic book entitled Land and Cattle: Conversations with Joe Pankey, a New Mexico Rancher. You will not see any part of the book excerpted here. You will not even see it mentioned anywhere but here. I am not willing to dismember the book in any fashion. All I will say is that Joe Pankey has something to teach each and every person interested in the public lands debate.

Please, please, please, read the book.

Parsons, Jack, and Earney, Michael, Land and Cattle: Conversations with Joe Pankey, a New Mexico Rancher. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1978. ISBN: 0-8263-0491-5

There is a story on page 69 ofKill the Cowboy: A Battle of Mythology in the New West that is a fitting way to start this section:

"We asked ourselves what it was that we wanted, what was our goal? And there was an environmentalist saying, 'I need baby fish, I need intermediate fish, I need teenage fish, I need mature fish, and I need old fish.' And there was a biologist saying, 'I need baby willows and aspen, I need intermediate willows and aspen, I need teenage willows and aspen, I need mature willows and aspen.' And the ranchers are going 'Oh! Oh, okay, why didn't you say so before? We thought you just wanted to get rid of the cows!' Then the ranchers start, 'Well, we want baby ranchers, and we want teenage ranchers, and we want middle-aged ranchers, and we want older ranchers.' And everyone in that room was so surprised to learn that no one was really in opposition. We could all work together to achieve those things."

Of course, there are those who do just want to get rid of cows. I used to be one of those people. I still do believe that a reduction in cows is necessary, but I do not want to get rid of them. My point here, is that I am not opposed to ranchers per se. I am a vegetarian, but no one who eats any beef or byproducts of cattle can be legitimately opposed to ranchers altogether either.

Ah, but I digress! The issue here is finding the common ground. The common ground is easily stated, but stood upon with great difficulty. It is expansive, but equally elusive. The common ground, is that as a whole, both ranchers and environmentalists both want the land to be healthy. In some cases, even the desire behind the goal is the same. Environmentalists often seek a healthy environment merely for the sake of it's existence, as do a number of ranchers. In general, both ranchers and environmentalists say that they would like to have a clean, healthy environment for their grandchildren to experience and enjoy.

Almost everyone wants a sustainable future, we just have to make such a future reality.

Russell, Sharman Apt, Kill the Cowboy: A Battle of Mythology in the New West, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1993. ISBN: 0-201-58123-X

[Back to main cattle page] [Back to Environmental Issues Page] [Back to 'The Beckoning']