The Land Report

Rockies 2018

The Magazine of the American Landowner is an essential guide for investors, landowners, and those interested in buying or selling land. The award-winning quarterly is known for its annual survey of America's largest landowners, The Land Report 100.

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R O C K I E S 2 0 1 8 | The LandReport 59 LANDREPORT.COM "Fire was part of the natural cycle of the ecosystem out here," Sarah King says. "Once humans were on the landscape in the early 1900s, they started suppressing fires. That's resulted in overgrowth of woody species. So what we are looking to do with prescribed fire is burn back some of the woody species to restore the grass- lands and the natural cycle of the ecosystem. It also helps reduce the risk of a big wildfire." Once upon a time, ranchers (and indigenous people before them) who wanted to burn off brush could just light a fire and let it burn across the open country. Those days are long gone. Prescribed fire is an important and cost-effective management tool for land managers across the West's fire-adapted ecosystems, but the risks and liabilities are too great today for most ranches to implement burns on their own. "In this current landscape, you need other people to accomplish burning and a lot of other conservation goals," King says. "In the process, you need to be open to working with others in a group setting. You're not being realistic if you don't think you need someone else in the process." Through the Alliance, ranchers in the Altar Valley work with agencies and non-profit organizations to put the element of fire back into the ecosystem. This not only restores grasslands, but it benefits the entire watershed in the process. "Pulling all the stakeholders together in a room, it becomes a really collaborative atmosphere of someone saying 'my agency can do this' and some- one else saying 'we could fill in with that.' It's a really positive way to get things done on the ground," she says. They've also tackled many of the other issues together. While solutions aren't always easy, the process itself builds relationships and a sense of community. "Having to speak to people and interact with them in a setting forces you to see them as humans rather than just talking heads. Working side by side, being out on the ground together, we find a lot of common agreement. I think, in general, the biggest thing in the West at the moment — and maybe even across the nation — is that everybody needs to keep talking to one another. It can be tempting to get frustrated and just want to turn inward, but the more conversations you have with people, the more human they are, and the more they will want to work with you on common goals. Working on concrete projects on the ground with all the parties involved is the secret we have found to successful collaborative conservation," King says. SARAH KING

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