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For more than 100 years, cattle ranchers have used publicly owned land, such as national forests, as low cost summer pasture for their herds. As a result of growing environmental awareness of the damage to watersheds and water quality, the Forest Service that issues grazing permits has found itself in court with environmental groups representing a public that is fed up with federal subsidy of the cattle industry. Years of litigation have only succeeded in polarizing all parties, without producing a way forward.
In the third of a 3-part series, producers jesikah maria ross & Catherine Stifter look at a collaborative project in the northern Sierra that aimed to resolve that impasse. The Cowboy Unite project brought together a group of former adversaries, who protected a creek and worked out their differences by “kicking dirt” together.