Black Diamond Ranch Opposes the Monument
I am a first generation rancher here in San Juan County. My wife and I were both born and raised in Blanding. We bought our ranch 15 years ago after the previous owner passed away and we have been living the dream since then. We raise our cattle on mostly Forest Service and BLM allotments, along with state lands and some private ground.
I have become increasingly concerned about the future of my livelihood as the ideas concerning the lands bill and potential Bears Ears National Monument designations have come to the forefront. Recently there has been a huge movement and increased interest among some members of Native American tribes calling for more protection and preservation of lands here in our county.
“I have become increasingly concerned about the future of my livelihood…”
One casual observation is that these lands have suddenly become conveniently “sacred” and there is a strong indication that it is due to a certain amount of outside influence from NGO’s. I have also noticed that there is a great amount of misinformation being shared about how much these lands are currently being negatively impacted. They held a “gathering” last summer as well as this summer near the Bears Ears to draw attention to their cause that was attended by some high level government officials.
For some reason I don’t think a meeting of that kind would have been granted with me or other opponents of the monument if it had been requested. I bring this up because both “gatherings” were held in the middle of one of the pastures on my Forest Service allotment. I run cattle on the Bears Ears in the summer and on Cedar Mesa in the winter and I love these areas. These areas have played an integral part in the ranching history here in San Juan County for many, many decades.
I have many goals as a rancher such as; raising a quality food product for an ever growing and hungry population, ensuring a quality life for my livestock, taking care of my family, teaching my children the value of work, allowing others the experience of the western lifestyle, etc. The most important goal that I have is taking care of the land, and that is very important to me.
As far as an economical impact, although the size of my herd is not large compared to what other ranchers have around here, I feel like my contribution to our local economy is significant. In 2014, I spent over $125,000 here in San Juan County. That does not include payments to any government entity or any loan payments made. That amounts to a little under $500 per cow that goes back into the local economy that I would like to continue to be able to contribute.
“The most important goal that I have is taking care of the land, and that is very important to me.”
I actually have more to say about these things, but these are the basics. I don’t put myself out there too much, but I wanted to make sure my voice is being heard since I have a vested interest in the outcome of what is going on here. My message can be summed up quite simply and easily. The management practices that are in place for the areas we ranch on are working well and that is why these lands are so beautiful, pristine, and productive and I want my ability to continue ranching and taking care of these lands to be protected.
Kenneth S. Black