Ranching | KUNC

Ranching

Nick Cote for KUNC/LightHawk

Use it or lose it.

That saying is at the heart of how access to water is managed in the western U.S. Laws that govern water in more arid states, like Colorado, incentivize users to always take their full share from rivers and streams, or risk the state rescinding it. The threat comes in the form of a once-a-decade document that lists those users on the brink of losing their access to one of the region's most precious resources.

The pandemic has beef markets on a roller coaster, and Shohone, Idaho's Amie Taber is among the ranchers along for the ride.

 


Chris Descheemaeker ranches black angus, red angus cross with her family outside of Lewistown, Montana. The coronavirus pandemic, she says, comes after a few tough winters and an already tough market.


The Trump administration has spent the past month announcing sweeping changes that could benefit ranchers on public lands, including a proposal to overhaul grazing regulations for the first time in 25 years. 

Many ranchers are applauding President Donald Trump after he announced an overhaul of the nation’s bedrock environmental law on Thursday. 

Luke Runyon / KUNC

Climate change has been called the new normal. But residents in some parts of the Southwest say after living through the last two years, there’s nothing normal about it. 

Communities in the Four Corners -- where the borders of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona meet -- have been bouncing between desperately dry and record-breaking moisture since the winter of 2017, forcing people dependent on the reliability and predictability of water to adapt.

Cattle ranchers got a break this week. Their grazing fees on public lands just dropped to the lowest amount allowed under federal law. The average savings per rancher will be just $32 a year, but the decision is still controversial.


Esther Honig / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

Parts of Colorado are experiencing the worst drought conditions in more than a decade.

The severity of the drought varies across the state, from few if any impacts in the state’s northeastern corner to severe and record-breaking conditions in the southern half of the state.

A house subcommittee is focusing on grazing on public lands on Thursday. Republican leaders want to discuss what they call the regulatory burdens on the industry.


The House did not pass its version of a farm bill last month, but the Senate may have a better shot this week when they consider the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.

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