An Unlikely Alliance

Born out of conflict, the Diablo Trust was founded 25 years ago by two northern Arizona family ranches. In 1993, the Bar T Bar and the Flying M ranches joined together to seek an innovative approach to respond to public concerns about the impacts of cattle grazing on forestland and imbalanced wildlife populations on their 426,000 acres of ranchlands that span private, state, and federal land.

It started with a gathering. The Prosser (Bar T Bar) and Metzger (Flying M) families, who had long worked to promote healthy ranchlands, welcomed people across the political and social landscape who shared their concern for the environment and wildlife to combine their energy, skills, dedication, and willingness to work to deal with these pressures more effectively, openly, and collaboratively. That first gathering cultivated a quarter-century long cooperative effort to research and monitor the ecology of working lands, restore grasslands, re-establish native wildlife populations, share knowledge about the value of working lands in the southwest.

The conflict that catalyzed the founding of Diablo Trust has been replaced by long-standing collaborative management efforts supported by bi-annual Cooperative Resource Operational Plan (CROP) meetings, the longest ever forage monitoring program in Arizona (Forage Resource Study Group), ongoing land-based research and education by Northern Arizona University, and an Annual Meeting that brings together ranchers, agencies, and the public to share knowledge about the value of working lands.

There are 4-5 billion acres of land on this planet with similar togography, geology, and climate to the American West. If these American ecosystems aren’t used as a global laboratory, then where on this planet – with what money and parallel sources of academia, land agency expertise, and educated people living on the land – will this be done? And when will we start?
— Jack Metzger, Founding Member and Owner of Flying M Ranch