We are on the Walsh Ranch, speaking with Bud and Sheila Walsh, in Central Montana on the edge of the Fort Belknap Reservation. Many elements are dependent on the health of these grasslands; they provide key wildlife corridors, are key for regional watersheds, carbon sequestration, and the health of this region supports hardworking communities largely centered around cattle ranching. These folks take great pride in producing quality food for the world, in ways that can also steward the land.
Here in Central Montana, there are several partnerships being formed, many non-traditional, which Bud and Sheila Walsh are involved in and will be speaking to today. To put it nicely, and vaguely, the world of ranching landowner and conservation non-profits or government agencies have not always had histories of working well together. But Bud and Sheila Walsh will share with us how these partnerships can be done with established trust, communication, and when the needs and knowledge of the ranchers on the ground are truly listened to and respected. They will share with us about being involved with The Nature Conservancy’s Matador Ranch grassbank and the Rancher’s Stewardship Alliance, where rancher's are leading work, through partnerships, that benefit communities and the ecosystems they're a part of. Bud also speaks to his involvement with the Agricultural Committee for the Island Mountain Development Group, an Indigenous-led entity working to create self-sustaining economies and opportunities for members of the Aaniih and Nakoda Nations. This is a great episode for ranchers, folks in conservation, community development, or great insight for those who think their lives may not relate to those of ranchers at all, because I’m sure in some way you will find that it does. Bud and Sheila share insight on building trust and the values in listening, learning together, creating opportunities for the next generation, and the involvement of local communities.
This episode is part of the Life in the Land project, which is a series of films and podcasts produced by Stories for Action, which hears from folks that interact with the complexities of Montana's landscapes, speaking to the value of locally-led work and the holistic approaches needed for the health of communities and the ecosystems they're a part of. Find out more about the project and watch the films at LifeintheLand.org
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