This newsletter’s pages show how ecologically-attuned management maintains wide open spaces for aesthetics, production and the essential dynamics of fire and wildlife movement to sustain those values.
What is sustainability? It is a subject I have studied a lot. In terms of carbon, the life element, sustainability means balancing for the ability of biological systems to remain diverse and productive indefinitely. Thus, sustainability reflects the fourth dimension of time, where empirically-monitored sites maintain carbon-balanced living health, even in the face of the regional desertification trend we see playing out across the Southwest.
In this issue’s lead article, Cows, Carbon, and the Classroom, Dr. Johnson mentions how Holistic Resource Management (HRM) has been applied in increasing the carbon in the Reed Lake demonstration plots. As a range conservationist, over the past 31 years I have applied the HRM decision model in many ways. The model is not very good if used prescriptively, but is great as a real-time responsive action tool – because it sets balanced goals, uses a full spectrum of tools, does empirical monitoring, and uses the data immediately to alter management to pace with dynamically moving natural processes. Collaboration between all stakeholders on a land area is a fundamental requirement of the HRM model, and this is why the Diablo Trust continues with our many meetings and field days involving ranchers, agency representatives, special interest groups, and the general public.
Like our Program Manager Jeremy, I also attended the Quivira Coalition’s annual conference in Albuquerque (titled “Lights, Soil, Action!”) that honors “outstanding leadership in the radical center” in the areas of ranching, conservation, civil service and research. Keynote speaker Dr. Wes Jackson (40-year leader/ researcher with The Land Institute) said they now have international recognition for perennial grain and seed crop polycultures that out-produce normal agricultural crops, but without the usual soil erosion, nutrient depletion and fossil fuels dependency. He says sustainability involves emergence of “perennialism” for harvesting food and fiber crops from lands that maintain soils with constant stable cover.
Two water pipelines, totaling about 10 miles in length, to benefit livestock and wildlife in the east-central area of the Diablo Trust have recently been completed (photos on page 13). The ranches wish to thank the Arizona Game and Fish’s Landowner Compact Program for funding the larger of these pipeline projects. Also, 5,021 acres of juniper brush treatment in the mid elevations of the Bar T Bar ranch is scheduled this year to open up grasslands to benefit wildlife and livestock. This work is from a combination of funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (EQIP) and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality for 3,659 acres on State lands, and from EQIP and the US Fish and Wildlife Partners for 759 acres on private lands.
On the weather front: Though this fall was forecast to be a dry La Niña period, it has turned out to be a normal one, having received good rainfall in each of the past three months. The earthen water tanks have been filling up.
I look forward to seeing you at our Annual Meeting on February 17th!