A Plan to Save the American West Through Sustainable Ranching:
Future West Launches the “No Net Loss” Program
Working ranchlands play an outsized role in ecosystem stewardship. If working ranchlands were to be developed into subdivisions or converted to non-ranching uses, the Northern Rockies would lose 41% of remaining grass and shrub habitat. In Montana alone, this would impact 83% of elk winter range, and 12% of Grizzly Bear habitat in the Lower 48 would be gone – with the remainder fragmented by lost habitat connectivity between mountain ranges. A whopping 58% of lowland riparian habitat is on private land and is therefore subject to loss. If working ranches go away, then the wildlife that characterizes the Northern Rockies will go away as well.
Here’s the rub: working ranches provide millions of acres of prime wildlife habitat, but their existence hangs by a thread. Low commodity prices and rising costs make it difficult for ranches to stay viable. For some ranchers, losses of forage or livestock to wildlife can make these challenges overwhelming.
Pronghorn on working ranch lands in the High Divide
Future West wants to change that. With a generous grant from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Future West is launching the “No Net Loss” of working ranchlands program. The No Net Loss program would provide financial compensation for protection of wildlife habitat on working lands. By providing compensation, we can reduce the burden of wildlife habitat preservation that is disproportionately placed on working ranches.
Future West is working with ranchers and conservationists to compensate ranchers for protecting ecosystem functions on working lands. Funding for the program is envisioned to come from public, private, and philanthropic investment.
We look forward to sharing the progress of the No Net Loss program with you. For questions, please contact Future West Program Manager Hannah Jaicks. Special thanks to the Centennial Valley Association, the Ruby Valley Strategic Alliance, and Laurie Hedges. A hearty thanks also for the generosity of the Harder Foundation, the Volgenau Foundation, and the Weeden Foundation for supporting the film “Working Lands: a Story of Bears and Ranching,” which offers an up-close and personal look at the dilemma facing wildlife and working lands. YOU CAN WATCH THE FILM IN THE LINK BELOW.