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Hope on the Range

Over the course of the summer of 2017, I tried to grapple with understanding the meaning of the ranching heritage of the West, and, given the history of irresponsible and destructive ranching practices on western rangelands, the unique ways that ambitious biodiversity conservation is able to coexist with for-profit livestock production at a large scale at Zapata.”

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“The Next Generation of Conservation Ranchers”

Duke Phillips could have been a “normal” rancher. Raised in northern Mexico in a second-generation ranching family, he came of age in a world where cowboys shot coyotes to protect their calves, ranches were grazed in their entirety year-round, and cattlemen were just that–men who raised cattle. The rancher-conservationist had yet to emerge. While the tide has been changing in recent years, with more and more farmers and ranchers embracing their role as land stewards, perhaps Phillips’ most radical act has been not just to join this growing group of agricultural conservationists, but, since the very beginning, to throw the doors open and invite others to observe and participate in the project for sustainable ranching.

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