Diversifying Helps Multiple Generations Make a Living On the Land

When Bruce Switzer's son, Adam, and daughter, Sarah, expressed their desire to come back to the ranch to make a living and a life, it was clear that they'd have to find additional ways to bring in income.  The answers they came up with have turned their ranch into a destination for hunters, wildlife watchers and birders from around the world, and a place where four generations of the family are living and growing together.  By sharing their experience, they hope to serve as a model to other threatened farms and ranches by demonstrating how to diversify land use to stimulate alternative incomes while conserving and promoting traditional agriculture. Calamas Outfitters began as a hunting operation and grew quickly. Now, they offer river canoeing, tanking and tubing, and horseback riding, as well as sandhill safari jeep tours that show visitors the natural beauty of the area, and how the ranch fits on the land. Bird watching was a natural addition for their ecotourism business, and since the ranch is home to sharp-tailed grouse dancing and prairie chicken booming grounds, visitors were soon "flocking" to the ranch. In 2009, they created the Switzer Ranch and Nature Reserve to formally recognize the important role that conservation had always played in the management of the ranch. Says Sarah, "The formation of our own private nature reserve p

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