Earlier this month, a young natural resources professional who has taken three classes I teach at Colorado State University sent me a text message with a picture of Mr. Tim Mantle’s Oct. 4, 2018, letter to the editor. That former student said to me, “If Mr. Mantle only knew you are still teaching the benefits of cattle grazing and how grazing can be used as a tool.” I appreciate that this former student was quick to acknowledge my strong natural resource, agriculture, livestock and academic background. I am comfortable that he, and many others are aware of my respect for the important balance between agriculture and natural resource management.
Mr. Mantle did not attend the River Management Workshop he criticized. Had he been there, he would have heard me present examples of riparian improvement achieved by changing the way livestock are managed (not the exclusion of livestock). These examples highlighted how changing the time and timing of grazing use, or/and improving animal distribution provided for the growth needs of plants and led to riparian improvement that happened while being grazed by livestock. I also presented examples of riparian areas being maintained in good condition while being grazed by livestock and some that had been badly degraded by poor livestock grazing management.
Mr. Mantle seems to have issues with what he read in the earlier Herald Times (HT) article summarizing the workshop. The quote that he wrongly attributed to me, a mere 30 words of an attempt to summarize a 30-minute presentation, should have been attributed to that article. Those words were chosen by someone other than me, do not represent a direct quote of anything I said, and were not presented in the article as such. Clearly, the statement about grazing and root systems in the original HT article should have been worded differently. I am confident that what I presented at the workshop (including what I said) is consistent with current research, classic research and lessons learned from land and livestock managers.
I honestly believe this is the first time anyone has described me as having developed my “own agenda of anti-grazing” (quoting Mr. Mantle’s letter of Oct. 4). Actually, demonstrating quite the opposite, I have been kicked out of a small room full of environmental lawyers because they thought I was too supportive of livestock grazing. So, with a small number of folks at each of the two extremes, perhaps I am about where I should be with respect to livestock grazing and natural resources. In other words, I think I am still on the road and not off in the ditch on either side.
Mr. Mantle’s letter was unjustified, clearly a personal attack on me and a threat to my livelihood. I do not understand why he felt compelled to lash out at me this way, especially with so few facts to back up his accusations. I assure you, Mr. Mantle, that I am solid—I can take it. But to make it easier on all of us, please just attend the workshop next time!
Best wishes to all for a great fall and winter. I have a great deal of respect for ranching communities. My sincere hope is that working landscapes across the West persist and thrive. I love NW Colorado, am proud to have lived and worked there and am lucky to have family there. I look forward to my next trip over the hill.