Home   Landscape Livestock History Legacy

Landscape

Big Horns Landscape

Pastel hues along Otter Creek Canyon reveal ancient rock laden with fossils. The story here is of earlier communities with strange fish and ferns and Mesozoic herbivores. Wyoming landforms and organisms evolved from subtropical swamps, plate tectonics, glacial ice sheets and species migration. Complicated stuff for some of us ranch folks to comprehend. Later, on this scene, the wooly mammoth, obsidian arrow points and petroglyphs show up. Our human species, we are told, has interacted with the Big Horns landscape for about thirteen thousand years. We still find evidence of primitive hunters from the mists of time. Stone tools, chip piles and rock drawings. Medicine wheels, mysterious rock arrangements of unknown human origin, are found at high elevations on top of the Big Horns.

The Pageant

Wyoming once must have been an incredible pageant. Remote mountains and prairies teemed with buffalo, grizzlies, elk, bighorn sheep and wolves. Nomadic indigenous peoples defended this land with fierce determination. Crow, Shoshoni, Cheyenne and Lakota were here. The fate and treatment of these proud people is an American tragedy. Many wild creatures of this region were hunted to near extinction by the late 1800’s. The Double H Ranch comes on the scene about that time.

       

 

Double H Ranch

Thousands of cattle poured into the Big Horn Basin during the 1880’s. The open range cattle era and subsequent decades had a devastating impact on the pristine ecology of the region. Severe degradation of grasslands and streams took place. There was a lack of knowledge to anticipate the effects of livestock on overgrazed watersheds. Our Double H Ranch, most likely, was part of the problem in those days.

These days the Double H Ranch resides on a larger Big Horns landscape with scenic aesthetics reminiscent of the past. Our vision for the Double H Ranch is a sustainable future through conservation and responsible land use. Healthy vegetative communities, wildlife and scenic open spaces are important to us. Biological diversity. Complex ecological systems are better understood now. Science and proven practices allow for decisions with beneficial outcomes. We have partners. Cooperative projects to conserve natural resources have brought some good people to the table. A twenty year plan to enhance vegetative composition and riparian systems is one example. Prescribed burning will be an important component of this effort. The BLM has the expertise to replicate the role fire brings to natural landscapes.

       

We think some of the best stories in American agriculture are on remote Wyoming ranches. Preservation of open space and habitat conservation across large landscapes come into play here. Do nagging livestock grazing problems persist? For sure. Are there litigious organizations and folks out there who advocate the demise of western ranch culture? You bet. Want to check out some of the alternatives? Take a drive past subdivisions on old Wyoming ranches or unreclaimed mining, oil and gas extraction landscapes.
~