Triangle/Chino Winds NRCD

Our mission at the Triangle/Chino Winds NRCD is to advocate for all local agricultural producers. We are dedicated to coordinating with governing agencies and local landowners to achieve conservation goals.

By: Reuben Vernon

We have all gotten a lot of practice lately complaining about the state of affairs. From politics to the weather, there is certainly no shortage of opportunity.

Having lived long enough to accrue a small amount of wisdom, I have come to really appreciate problems that I can do something about. It can be intimidating to realize you can actually affect change in some important area, because of the implications; you will own the results, good or bad. That ownership of the outcomes is the critical part of the equation, because with ownership comes the responsibility to ensure that the results are in line with what we want.

I feel strongly that in light of recent events, there is real need for a collaborative range monitoring initiative in our area. Discussions about drought and stocking rate are very different when had within the context of long-term trend data. While SRP says loud and often that lake levels are critically low, we all know that local conditions out on the ground can and often are quite different. It is time for us to take ownership of the situation and prove it.

My family has done some type of monitoring on our place for over 35 years now. Initially the methods we used were designed simply to provide guidance to our management; specifically, to inform us whether or not we were moving toward our goals or away from them. Around 2007 we realized that there was a second reason to be collecting data; to justify our existence on the landscape. As grazing on public lands has become increasingly controversial and fraught with litigation, my dad decided that we needed scientifically and legally valid quantitative data about the actual biological conditions on our allotment. I hope he knew how right he was.

Ranchers in Gila County, along with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension and the Tonto National Forest, initiated this type of collaborative monitoring program in 2000. Because doing what others have done successfully so often works, I propose we copy their blueprint and initiate a similar type of program. The cooperative extension Range Monitoring workshop on May 26 would be an ideal place to start.