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HomeConsider ThisGrasslands and the Herds that Graze Them Provide Critical Ecosystem Services

Grasslands and the Herds that Graze Them Provide Critical Ecosystem Services

Cattle play a vital role out on the landscapes for grasslands. They mimic in many ways what historic bison used to do. That’s why we need cattle out on the landscape.

Marshall Johnson
Vice President
Audubon Society

The Audubon Society knows all about the important role livestock play in protecting grassland habitat for birds and wildlife. That’s why they created a program to support the ranchers that provide this critical support.

In this TEDxFargo talk, Marshall Johnson describes the important ecosystem services that ranchers provide as they raise the food that consumers buy in stores, and he reminds his audience that they don’t really pay for those services: “When you buy beef or poultry off the ranch you’re only paying for, currently, the bottom line cost of production. But what they’re giving us is so much more.”

Audubon’s radical, market-based Conservation Ranching Program now enrolls more than 2,000,000 acres across 60 ranches.

That’s why, as a conservationist, Johnson realized he needed to focus on producers’ cattle and their bottom line. So he and his team developed a program that rewards ranchers and empowers consumers to support them as they work to provide climate and environmental solutions to some of the biggest problems we face today.

Check out this 10:14 video for an introduction to the program the Audubon Society developed.

We’ll be covering more about this program and the role of grasslands in upcoming issues. Stay tuned!


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Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.

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