Whatever intoxicating blend of spice and bath salts the "Admin" of the Central Minnesota Tea Party blog is ingesting, Bluestem hopes the newly-convened Minnesota legislative committee on synthetic drugs moves to get that stuff off the street and into the hands of the DRE program where it so belongs.
It's seriously worse than locoweed.
Take the July 9, 2013 post, Agenda 21 and the DNR. This post was originally an article by DNR Farmland Wildlife Specialist Greg Hoch in the July/August 2013 issue of Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine, Where Cattle Roam and Wild Grasses Grow.
Not that the brain trust at the Central Minnesota Tea Party is sharing that attribution. The article is simply reprinted without note of its origin or comment. Apparently, there are enough scary terms from Glenn Beck's cloud of Agenda 21 keywords to convince any red-blooded American Tea Party Patriot that the DNR is in cahoots with the United Nations by promoting conservation grazing in western Minnesota.
For those of you who don't live in close proximity of livestock, "conservation grazing" is a best management practice for pastured cattle, sheep, goats or other farm animals that's based on the application of the relatively recent application of research that demonstrates that for many plots of degraded prairie land set aside for conservation, well-managed grazing helps the native flora and fauna recover.
In the early 1900s, naturalist John Muir described livestock in the alpine meadows of the Sierra Mountains of California as "hoofed locusts." Later in the century, wilderness advocate Edward Abbey called cattle in the desert Southwest "a pest and a plague." Blaming cattle for environmental ills has long been a popular point of view of conservationists.
However, prairie plants evolved with and are well adapted to grazing by bison, deer, elk, and uncountable numbers of grasshoppers. The growing parts of many prairie grasses, the meristems, are at the soil surface, protected from both teeth and flame. In this landscape, a new and growing practice called conservation grazing returns hooved animals to their historic place in the prairie ecosystem.
Land managers with the Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Nature Conservancy are learning that it isn't always enough to protect and preserve acres of land. We also need to return ecological processes to those acres. Fire, grazing, and climate variability are three processes that control the diversity and productivity of tallgrass prairie. We can't do much to control annual climate variability, but we can use prescribed fire and conservation grazing to limit trees and other invasive plants, increase native species richness, and improve the overall structure of grasslands.
And how is that done? By introducing blue helmets to the prairie? Nope. It's by allowing farmers and ranchers to graze their private herds on public lands and private land held by non-profits like the Nature Conservancy.
Restricting property rights, like the Agenda21phobes fear? Not exactly. This is a "working lands" approach to managing land, and it's sound business practice for producers who are responding to market demand for grassfed meat. Hoch notes:
Since agencies don't necessarily want to get into the livestock business themselves, they rely on local ranchers to provide the cattle. This benefits ranchers who are looking for pasture to rent for grazing cattle, at a time when more land is being put into crop production due to high prices of corn and other commodities.
"Allowing conservation grazing of our wildlife grasslands gives our livestock farmers an opportunity to maintain their herds," says Don Baloun, state conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service. "We get the benefit of grazing to enhance the cover, and they get quality grasslands to maintain their herds."
Jim Wulf, a rancher in west-central Minnesota, points to additional benefits: "By moving cattle across different pastures, ranchers are able to break disease and parasite cycles."
The availability of quality grasslands isn't an abstract ideological issue for farmers and ranchers in a year like this when fodder and hay is in short supply because of weather extremes; Governor Dayton has appealed to the USDA to allow some land set aside as CRP to be grazed or mown for hay.
Perhaps even more bizarre is the implication that those who favor conservation grazing--like the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources which is recommending studies of it on WMA are somehow dupes. Or that the members of the Minnesota Prairie Plan Working Group are useful idiots, or that Minnesota voters, who overwhelmingly voted to create the Outdoor Heritage Fund, are also fools.
Heck of a conspiracy for us to create and not once let the prairie chicken (or Minnesota's most beloved alien species, the ring-necked pheasant) out of the bag.
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