Sustainability: What's in a Name?

“Love the prairies? Thank a rancher and eat a steak!" is a bumper sticker that can be seen in convention center parking lots across the western U.S. these days. The message is not unexpected on dusty ranch pickups and battered Suburbans, whose drivers are attending annual meetings of the state Cattlemen's Association or Farm Bureau.

But just as often, the proclamation leaps out from the bumpers of mini Coopers and hybrid vehicles also sporting logos of The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund and Audubon Society. Drivers of the vehicles are attending scientific conferences on arid land conservation or workshops on food security, social justice or rural sustainability. The stickers hint at what conservation scientists and practitioners across and beyond Colorado have come to understand: Aldo Leopold was spot on in 1933 when he asserted that wildlife and wildlands "can be restored by the creative use of the same tools, which have heretofore destroyed it – axe, plow, cow, fire and gun."

As San Isabel works to conserve land health, wildlife, open space, flowing water and scenic beauty, we recognize the crucial role of sustainably managed ranchlands. When we create or champion opportunities for ranchers to thrive by strengthening working wildlands, the result is cost-effective conservation.

Dave Pratt of Ranching For Profit is a leader in helping ranchers transform their operations for long-term sustainability through wise planning for both profitability and environmental health. Dave has graciously allowed us to repost his recent article that posits: "In the real world, a farm or ranch isn’t sustainable if it isn’t profitable." The same can be said of land trusts. Whether you drive a ranch rig or an electric car, the challenge is to do good (for nature and for people) while doing well (environmentally and financially).

Sustainability: What's in a Name?

by Dave Pratt

Maybe it’s just semantics, but I think the words we choose are important. Forty years ago, when I was in college, “sustainable agriculture” was a revolutionary concept. Forward-thinking universities created Sustainable Agriculture Departments. Most farm and ranch kids enrolled in the Animal Science or Crop Science programs while the hippies enrolled in Sustainable Agriculture. Read more here.




Linda Poole

Posted in News


We have protected more than 42,000 acres through 134 conservation easements.

Conservation easements guarantee long-term protection – through generations of landowners.