(Page 3 of 3)
This effort in free market environmentalism is able to leverage its dollars due to the structure of federal and state grazing laws, usually viewed as a negative by ecologists. Since these laws give landowners de facto control over vast tracts of public land, when APF buys land, the grazing leases come with the property acquired. Herring explains:
The APF simply wants to acquire private ranchlands and their accompanying federal grazing leases, and make conservation a priority on both. They’ll do so by paying ranchers market value for both the private land and the leases that they hold. “We don’t advocate for anything,” says Gerrity. “We have a single mission of acquiring land for conservation.”br> APF, for instance, purchased the Wiederrick Ranch, some 4,700 acreas of deeded land. With this purchase came 12,390 acres on Bureau of Land Management lands and 4,360 acres on state lands. It then converted the leases from cattle to buffalo. There are also grazing leases on 26,000 acres of the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge which were retired at the time of the sale of the ranch.
“Bottom line: By buying 4,700 acres, the American Prairie Foundation exerted de facto grazing control over nearly 48,000 acres altogether,” notes Herring.
Just as interesting is Herrings descriptions of the varying reactions from some ranchers and environmentalists who are not thrilled about these developments. Besides fear of disease from the buffalo infecting their herds, some ranchers are skeptical that any good will come of this initiative. They express doubts that it is sustainable. Moreover, there is a fundamental attachment to the life of ranching which, despite the demographic and financial realities, is a strong pull on their hearts.
The environmentalists quoted seem to be equally suspicious since they appear to have more faith in the older model of government-controlled conservation. Private land can be sold. They blame the current political climate, i.e., the Bush administration, for making it more difficult to rely on government funding to any significant degree.
APF is giving a lot of thought to encumbering their newly acquired lands with conservation easements, presumably for land protection. However, it is reasonable to speculate that such easements would make it easier for low-impact ranching to continue thus providing for financial sustainability over the long run. That would be consistent with APF’s stated goals of creating “a fully-functioning prairie-based wildlife reserve” and “ensuring that the land remains productive in a way that contributes significantly to the local economy.”
But what appears to be certain, for now at least, is that APF has no plans to turn lands over to the federal government. This practice is sometime referred to in derogatory terms as “flipping” by some critics of the land trust movement. APF for its part appears to be conscious of the problems of “political” management of public lands as described by Anderson and Leal.
“We are happy to have so many good people to collaborate with… but the APF board will always make the decisions,” claims Gerrity. “There won’t be any kind of round table, like the UN, where sixty-five different people have to agree on everything before anything gets done.”
We may not all be free market environmentalists yet, but the movement is still young and there is much to be gained by studying the insights of Anderson, Leal, and the other visionaries at PERC.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?