While 2021 was a year full of challenges and trials, it was also a year where we saw the intersection of “ranching, conservation, and communities” truly create “a winning team.” The severe drought, not just in our northern Montana counties, but across a large sweep of the region, brought with it feed shortages, water concerns, and even tough decisions for ranchers to destock their herds if their hunt for feed supplements or additional pasture came up short. However, in the face of that, the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance (RSA) truly embraced its mission leading to one of its most successful years to date.
We hosted multiple inaugural events and educational efforts, saw new participants seeking information from a larger region, forged stronger partnerships with those who shared our concern of preserving this range when drought placed it under pressure, and helped ranchers manage a bit more effectively by implementing water projects when they were needed most. And none of that could have happened if it wasn’t for dedicated RSA staff rolling up their sleeves, our loyal Board of Directors taking time out of their own strained schedules for the greater good of our collective mission, and our reliable partners continually seeing the need for and providing assistance through collaborative
Throughout this Annual Report, it’s evident the work RSA was able to achieve with the help of our staff, Board, and partners was necessary for not only ranchers, but for the greater good of our communities. Events like the Rural Resilience webinar series, the book club, and the Soil Health Tour convened thousands of participants craving more knowledge, seeking new relations, and embracing adaptive management to better their businesses, their local communities, and their part of this larger landscape. The miles of fence and waterlines, and the many new tanks and wells all illustrated not just the ranchers dedication to conservation, but our partners willingness to help improve this
ecosystem for everyone involved – people, livestock, and wildlife.
Looking back at 2021, we may initially remember heat, grasshoppers, water shortages, and drought, but let’s not fail to acknowledge the many wins we experienced – each one coming about because in the face of adversity, we chose to come together as a winning team working collaboratively for ranching, conservation, and community.
Leo Barthelmess, RSA Board President