Sagebrush Solutions

In Colorado, ranchers and environmentalists are collaborating in a common cause—protecting water rights and sustainable land use. The West's modern sagebrush rebellions often pit these two against each other, but in San Luis Valley, the Nature Conservancy is working with farmers and the Bureau of Land Management to create the nation's 57th national park. Republicans and Democrats are both hailing the Great Sand Dunes National Park project as a model of private-public partnership. To many, it's also evidence of what can be accomplished with "community-based conservation," an approach that weighs economics alongside ecology, encourages input from local residents, and unites disparate groups around a common concern—in this case, water. "We find that a lot of times the agricultural economy and the preservation of natural places are totally compatible roles," said the Nature Conservancy's Charles Bedford.

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