The Value of Grazing: Land and Species Conservation

For wildlife that rely on natural habitat to survive, there is no better partner than ranchers. That’s because ranchers protect and enhance rangeland that many critters call home.

Maggie Hanna knows the value of working ranches to many species. Her family’s operation is a part of a large swath of working lands southeast of Colorado Springs, Color. that provides essential habitat for a variety of wildlife in the area.

“We have things that range from the Arkansas Darter to wild turkey to antelope. All of these things are able to survive because the land hasn’t been fragmented.”

According to Hanna, ranchers manage for a range of factors to that promote healthy ecosystems across rangelands. This includes specific forage and biodiversity outcomes, factors that require responsive management as environmental conditions fluctuate.

As an example, livestock who spend time on rangeland spur the lifecycle of perennial grasses as they consumer forage, a natural process replicated by managed grazing. The removal of fine fuel loads also reduce the risk for wildfire, the number one threat to many species that live on rangeland in the West.

“Whether they are managing for livestock or wildlife or soils or grasses, they are the people that are in touch with every part of the ecosystem. In that sense there is no more efficient way to manage large landscapes than with the ranchers.”

To learn more about the value provided by these individuals, explore our value of grazing handout.