Ray Demarchi , a well respected retired provincial biologist who was the senior biologist in the Kootenays for decades responded to my last newsletter and recommended I watch “Cowspiracy” on Netflix.
The essence of the Cowspiracy story which I watched months ago is that methane gas from the manure, a colorless, odorless inflammable hydrocarbon is a major reason why the planet’s temperature is rising.
The mad rancher quoted in Cowspiracy makes the case that if all the resources used to produce beef were instead used to produce food for humans then there would be a rational use of resources, a point made in “River notes” by Wade Davis- A natural and Human History of the Colorado
“The production of a single pound of beef requires on average 1800 gallons of water. The cultivation of alfalfa alone consumes 7.5 million acre feet of water close to half of the entire flow of the Colorado”.
“The vast percentage of the water diverted from the Colorado is overwhelmingly used for a single purpose to fatten cattle and support a way of life rich in nostalgia but inefficient in terms of consumption and ecological footprint”.
River Notes and Cadillac Desert The American West and its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner are a compelling read for citizens fed up with the insulting self serving politics of the ranching industry.
In view of the work done by former B.C. Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell to address climate change why did his government insist on more cows on our mountains?
In response to the December 2009 Forest Practices Board news release “Plans for livestock grazing questioned” Ray wrote a powerful critique of range management and his message is a reminder why my 30 year journey to get justice for the Gilpin grasslands is just one ugly chapter after the other.
If you care about the future of the province’s grassland ecosystem and wildlife resource then I suggest you read and remember Ray’s critique which I am sending you. His quote that compares the economics of elk hunting versus the highly subsidized beef industry cuts to the chase and underscores one of the major reasons cronyism has the province’s wildlife populations on a death spiral.
“It seemed rather stupid to me that the elk resource which was grossing well over 10 million dollars per year with practically no cost to government other than a dozen or so conservation officers and wildlife biologist with a modest administration and inventory budget should be reduced in favor of an industry that produced 10 million dollars in beef for the same amount it cost to produce them”.
One of the many sources of information that will be used to make the case for the removal of the cow from the Class A Gilpin Grassland Park is Ray’s summary report Jan 1979 which describes the history of the 1972 1470 acre Boothman Ranch purchase and subsequent 1973 purchase of 475 acres by the National Second Century Fund renamed Nature Trust in 1984.
“Cattle are moved so that lower elevation, southwest facing slopes critical to the survival of native ungulates receive light use every autumn. Other pastures in the grazing system are alternately rested.
However the grazing system must be monitored to insure proper management of the forage and shrub resources critical to deer survival during late winter”.
The cow has won every fight so Ray’s advice was ignored as were the input from other credible sources that has resulted in one of our province’s first and finest grassland/wildlife initiatives becoming a casualty of a ranching industry that continually holds the public interest in contempt.
Please-there never were any bridges to burn!
Barry Brandow Sr.