A Culture of Conservation

Private lands and landowners are the cultural and economic cornerstones of rural communities. They exist, not in isolation, but as the underlying fabric of the west. In turn, land-based enterprises, land values and quality of life are dependent on the welfare of their communities. The two are inextricably linked.

Landowners are widely diverse, both demographically and in their management interests, yet have in common the stewardship of the intermountain west’s most important agricultural lands, water resources and wildlife habitat. Deeply embedded in their communities, they also constitute a major political influence over land use decisions and economic development. When landowners representing these diverse interests converge around core values of conservation, community health and sustainability, the result is a powerful, well-informed and balanced force for positive change on the landscape.

Working together through the Chama Peak Land Alliance, landowners are collectively generating a “culture of conservation.” In the process, neighbors become acquainted, friendships are born and a sense of real community among people occupying a common landscape is developed. These relationships, shared values and sense of community serve as the foundation for health, resilience and quality of life.

A culture of conservation can have great reach and staying power. As values become accepted common currency in a community, they influence countless individual and political decisions. The more these values are re-enforced through peer relationships and the more deeply rooted they become from one generation to the next, the more they define the landscape.

The Chama Peak Land Alliance is a model for this nascent but powerfully transformative movement. Already, the Alliance has inspired and advised similar groups of landowners. The Alliance also takes inspiration and guidance from other successful efforts like the Malpai Borderlands and the Blackfoot Challenge.