Some of you may know about my documentary project A Handful of Dust about the plight of ranches across the West. Having lived here almost all of my adult life, I've come to understand that the great scenic beauty and healthy wildlife habitat is in large part the result of the stewardship of multi-generational ranches. It's become a high priority for me to help people in other parts of the country, often with little connection to the outdoors, understand the benefits of keeping ranches in place in the American West. I won't go on about it here, so if you want to know more, head over to the website for A Handful of Dust.
Anyway, because of my concerns for this legendary way of life, it was my great pleasure to help Colorado Cattlemen's Association Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) on their fundraising campaign, Forever Colorado. Their goal is to raise money to protect the open space that not only residents and tourists enjoy, but also serve as habitat and migratory corridors for wildlife, a valuable food source, and provide carbon sequestration in the fight against climate change (see Judith D. Schwartz' book "Cows Save the Planet" for more). CCALT helps bring funding to the table so ranchers can realize some of the development value of their land without actually selling it. In exchange, the ranchers create easements on their property with the promise that it will never be developed. The economic impact is significant, in that development rights now or in the future far outweigh what ranchers receive through this program. But these noble people believe that the land should stay as it always has been, for the benefit not only of their heirs, but also for native wildlife species as well as all Americans.
Over four very long days, we shot ranches that have already put easements on their ground. The resulting images will be used for marketing the Forever Colorado funding effort. I'm proud to have been involved in such a worthy cause.
There's still a lot more images to go through, but these are some the photographs that percolated to the top.