Ranchers Work Hard To Preserve Public Lands

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Editor:

I'm writing in regard to the letter written by Kent Knudson: "Cage cattle, not people" (Dec. 20 Roundup). Maybe Mr. Knudson does not understand the open range law. Fence your property properly and the cattle will not go on your private property. I know many people who have had to fence their private property to keep elk, javelina and even other people out of their yards. We have to lock our doors to keep burglars out, and sometimes they still break in.

I don't know where you received your information. Ranchers are not paid for their cattle being hit on the highway. We get sued. We work hard to keep cattle off any highway and carry high liability insurance in the event it does happen. Most cattle are hit on the highway because someone from the public has cut a fence or left a gate open.

Ranching is a full-time job. Ranchers work hard to maintain and preserve the public lands in many ways. We work hard to preserve water resources that not only are used for livestock, but are maintained year-round for endangered species, wildlife of all kinds, such as deer, elk, quail, javelina, geese and many other animals. We maintain the land for hikers, ATV riders, campers and hunters as well as for ourselves, and it's because we love the land and love the freedom of the outdoors.

I don't know why Mr. Knudson is so against ranchers, but what is his participation on public lands to help keep resources available for the public? I was born and raised in a ranching heritage. My family goes back to the early settlers in the Pine-Payson area. I was born and raised here, and you're right about one thing -- it's not the same here as it used to be. We used to know everyone. You waved at every car that went by, and we never knew a stranger. Everybody helped everybody and you didn't do it for a dollar bill, you did it out of the kindness of your heart.

But one thing hasn't changed for me; I still love the ranching industry. We are a dying breed, just like Mr. Knudson said. But with cattle not on the public land, it goes right down the chain. The No. 1 thing is our wildfires the last couple of years. Without the logging industry and cattle industry, the forest is so thick it has to burn. There are a lot of facts we could go back and forth with, but before you judge a rancher and his/her career, you should meet them and spend some time with them and then maybe you would understand their love for the ranching business and the great outdoors.

Lori Brown, H-4 Ranch, Payson/Tonto Basin

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