‘Save the cowboy’—everywhere

For the past few years, I have been very aware of an initiative in Montana to inspire folks to “save the cowboy.” With an educational meeting recently hosted in Lewistown, Montana, I met the five women behind the campaign to “save the cowboy.”

The simple nature of the message these women have brought to the region is masterful. Without the human and left to its natural state, Mother Nature is destructive. The only way to manage Mother Nature and the resources of this land, is with a cowboy. I might add that sometimes the best cowboys are not boys at all.

The awakening is happening. As we continue to travel the central region of this country with one common message, I feel that folks are getting in tune with controlling their own future. The message is nearly as simple as the campaign, get involved locally. You must engage with county commissioners and your county sheriff. The Constitution clearly lays the groundwork for the local entity to be the ultimate authority.

At this moment, nothing is more rewarding for me than to have someone send me a note telling me they went to their first county government meeting ever and they will be going back. I might also note the true financial issue impacting you locally is how that school board spends your tax dollars. My advice is direct: spend less time paying attention to the noise from the White House and way more time at the county courthouse.

For whatever reason, which isn’t hard to figure if you visit, Montana has long been a target for land control. From wealthy out-of-staters to conservation easement crafters, it has all made it really tough to manage the land in order to make a living. In a meeting in Lewistown, we heard from several in the audience that these land grabs are not new. Families have been dealing with them since 1950 and when things got tough or ranchers felt threatened, they turned to a way out, some sort of conversation easement or even the Conservation Reserve Program.

I have had friends from every corner of the country tell me that in the past 20 years conservation easements for land or wildlife protection are essential to their financial survival. If that is the case, you have just turned your survival over to the decisions of someone else. The beauty of the “save the cowboy” message is the human element. Man must remain a part of the healthy ecosystem. 

Somehow, we have allowed those who want our land to hijack the concept of conservation. Returning land to its natural state is the worst possible scenario for planet or human health. A wilderness designation, without question, means that some natural disaster is a day away from causing serious harm. The science clearly shows us that if we want to manage land to improve the health of the planet, we would have every single acre of land and gallon of water managed with property rights as the driver.

Of the over 2,000 plant and animal species that have been deemed threatened or endangered by the federal government since 1973, officials brag about “recovering” 47 of them. How many trillions of dollars, how many human lives, how many resources have been tied up, how many training programs for our military, how many property rights have been squandered in the name of protection? Something that the government has no idea how to protect. The answer continues to be “save the cowboy.”

So, once again, my trip to Montana inspires me to remind you that our future depends on the survival of the cowboy. Are you ready to ride with the herd or will you be left to battle the elements on your own? Saddle up and let’s ride.

Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.LoosTales.com, or email Trent at [email protected].