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They’re A Hardy Bunch

Written by Dennis Sun

We’re proud this week to include the 2015 Fall Cattlemen’s Special Edition as an insert in the Roundup. We take great pride in our Fall and Winter Cattlemen’s editions as we get to do what we like best, write about agriculture at its best. What we mean by “at its best” is that these stories tell the tales about families in agriculture, their hardships and successes of the past and how they have stuck it out to make it work.

When we identified Teton County to focus on for the fall edition, our first response was, will we be able to find enough stories? As you know, Teton County is not known for its ag business. Man, were we wrong. We all knew some of the ranching families from Teton County. We started there, and then we kept finding more. Saige visited with a local brand inspector and hit the mother lode. While not like other counties, agriculture is alive and well in Teton County, and they are a hardy bunch. Winter comes early and stays late in Teton County, and those in ranching are, as they say, “work brittle.”

These are the people that the rest of the county brags on, as they provide the open spaces and vital wildlife habitat for the tourists and town people to view and remind them that they are still in the West. For them to see the cattle and horses in these open spaces with the Tetons in the background is a memory they will not soon forget. The barn on Mormon’s Row is seen in pictures worldwide and stands as a reminder of past agriculture in the valley and how important it is, especially now that only three percent of land is private in the county.

The high price of private land in the county does restrict ranching, but how families deal with the succession of those lands with the tax consequences is important. Dealing with wildlife diseases, endangered species, numerous predators and clogged highways will test one's patience, but as with the rest of the state, if you grow up with the issues, they are easier to deal with. Ranchers are an adaptable bunch, and those in Teton County prove that. They take advantage of where they live and make it work.

Speaking of making it work, this past week there have been numerous meetings all over the West with public land users trying to figure it out how to live with the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land use plans in the aftermath of the sage grouse ruling. The “devil’s in the details” is heard time and time again. Just figuring out these plans from a legal standpoint is mindboggling. Will it all come down to a judge’s decision at some time? Will the BLM and Forest Service end up just being the enforcers? What animal will be next on the list? At a hearing last week, we heard about the western spotted skunk as a potential listing.

But then, after proofreading the Fall Cattlemen’s, I thought, if those ranchers in Teton County and the northwestern part of the state can tough it out, the rest of us across the state ought to be able to, as well. Thanks to those for setting the standard high.