Lesli Allison & Tuda Libby Crews - Durable Conservation in the West... and Beyond

Lesli Allison and Tuda Libby Crews join me to discuss the critical role of private and working lands in achieving durable conservation outcomes in the United States. Lesli is a founding member and the Executive Director of the Western Landowners Alliance, a nonprofit organization that advances policies and practices that sustain working lands, connected landscapes, and native species. Tuda is a rancher and owner of Ute Creek Cattle Company, a conservation-focused ranching operation in northeastern New Mexico that has been in Tuda’s family for more than 200 years. Whether discussing on-the-ground stewardship practices or the intricacies of federal conservation policy, Lesli and Tuda are uniquely qualified to offer informed and thoughtful perspectives on all aspects of private land in the West.

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While ranchers, farmers, and conservation stakeholders have long understood the critical importance of private land stewardship and conservation, the Biden administration’s 30x30 conservation goal has brought the topic to the forefront of American politics and mainstream media. 30x30 has prompted challenging conversations about what it means to conserve land, and it has sparked healthy debates about the government’s role in private land stewardship. 30x30 is a bold initiative and its implications for private landowners, particularly agricultural producers, are enormously complex-- we’ll never find sufficient answers in pithy Tweets or surface-level news stories. So, I was excited to have Lesli and Tuda join me for an hour-long conversation about 30x30 and private lands’ role in large-scale conservation.

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Lesli, Tuda, and I connected via Zoom and enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation, covering everything from Tuda’s family history in New Mexico to some of the intricacies of the 30x30 initiative. We started out discussing the vital role private lands play in conservation and environmental health here in the United States. Tuda talks about her family’s process of restoring her family’s ranch in New Mexico and the many environmental benefits that they have experienced. We obviously dig into 30x30, discussing its pros and cons and its opportunities and challenges. We talk about the importance of garnering local support for all land-related initiatives, and they each discuss their thoughts on the odds of success for an initiative as ambitious as 30x30. And as usual, they each offer up some excellent book recommendations that I think you’ll enjoy.

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Please check out the episode notes for a full list of topics we discuss and links to all of the information we reference. Enjoy!

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This episode is brought to you in partnership with Colorado State University’s Salazar Center for North American Conservation. https://salazarcenter.colostate.edu/

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TOPICS DISCUSSED:

  • 4:40 – Lesli’s introduction
  • 6:25 – Tuda’s introduction
  • 9:55 – Lesli discusses private lands’ role in conservation
  • 13:25 – Tuda describes her ranch and her family’s conservation work there
  • 19:40 – Lesli talks about performing private land conservation work at scale
  • 24:40 – Tuda describes her process of arriving at creative land stewardship solutions
  • 28:55 – Lesli and Tuda discuss 30 by 30
  • 39:40 – Lesli discusses means of protecting agricultural property from subdivision
  • 44:10 – Nodding towards public land conservation efforts, Leslie and Tuda discuss was to garner public support for private land stewardship efforts
  • 51:40 – Lesli and Tuda talk about how they see our odds for success in these efforts
  • 55:40 – Book recommendations
  • 59:40 – Lesli mentions what WLA is doing from a media perspective

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