Responsible Cattle Management Can Benefit the Environment

Regarding "Bovine Blues," Currents, Jan. 21: I want to thank all of the taxpayers of Pima County for voting for and paying into the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. I live in Amado—an area that I am happy Pima County has identified as worth preserving as open space. They own the Canoa Ranch, Rancho Seco, the Pima County portion of the Sopori Ranch and, soon, the Marley Cattle Co.—all historic sites with existing infrastructure.

The true value of all of this land is in its watershed potential—its ability to replenish the aquifer beneath it for future use by keeping what rain falls on the ground in the watershed. By design, a healthy watershed is a healthy grassland, with plenty of vegetation to slow the water down. The presence of cattle can either abuse and damage the grassland, or utilize and enhance it, depending on management practices. In a rotation system—which most ranches implement these days—the heard is rotated quickly through many smaller pastures, which gives the resting pastures time to regrow and go to seed before the cattle return.

Drovers magazine highlighted a Missouri land owner who "mob grazed" his land and had data to prove its benefits, and the Jan. 25 issue of Time magazine praised beef and the advantage of proper grazing. The cattle improve the pasture by breaking the soil surface with their hooves and crunching in dry plant material to improve its texture. They spread seeds by carrying them on their fur, or by knocking them onto the disturbed soil, and by ingesting them and then depositing them on the ground in a pile of fertilizer. By having cattle on the land, the stock tanks are maintained for the generations of wildlife that have depended on them for water. And when a cow dies of natural causes, the scavengers feast.

I agree with the statement that the county shouldn't be in the cattle business; however, they are in the land-management business, and that includes cattle. I would recommend that they lease out these ranches to competent cattle people who share the vision of a healthy watershed and have the skills, knowledge and funding to manage the land correctly. At this time, there is a group of beef producers who are seriously thinking about opening a packing house in Willcox to be able to supply Arizona with its own beef. If all the beef produced here stayed in the state, it would only satisfy 30 percent of the state's demand. Arizona beef: It's what could be for dinner.

Laurinda Oswald

Oswald Cattle Co.

A Note to Haters: Close Your Mouths, and Open Your Minds

I just finished reading Joni Kay Rose's commentary on Amanda Simpson (Guest Commentary, Jan. 28). I've had about all I can take of people telling other people how to live and be happy. Let me say up front that I am conservative and believe in God (but not churches), but most of all, I believe in freedom.

I learned a long time ago we are all entitled to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." What could be more important to those ideals than to be at peace with yourself and who you are? Life is too hard and too damn short to be miserable in your own body.

Amanda was born with the spirit of a woman and the body of a man. She had the heart and courage to change her body to match her spirit. If you have a problem with that, then I say the problem is not Amanda, but you.

I've never met her and have only seen one small picture of her in the paper, but by all accounts, Amanda is an attractive, smart, capable woman, confident about herself, and—dare I say—happy with her life.

As Americans, we are all entitled to our opinions, so here's mine. To the narrow-minded haters, I say: Close your mouths, and open your minds (if you've got one). To Amanda, I simply say: Live long and prosper.

Scott Severson

Brewer's Plan Will Lead Arizona to Third World Status

Except for a modest tax proposal, Jan Brewer's "Key Points" seem essential for creating an unlivable dystopia ("Slashing the State," Jan. 21). Slashed services will add to crime rates and misery. (The slums take their revenge, Carl Sandburg told us, and the unmedicated mentally ill take theirs, and so on.) It'll also be exciting to have a lot of sick people roaming the streets, ineligible for treatment. (We can wear masks.) Guaranteeing that children will get poor educations (or none) and feel neglected will give them a running start on all kinds of dysfunction if they live to adulthood. (Passing up federal matching funds also makes a lot of sense if it furthers the cause of anarchy.)

Parks littered with trash and poop will cost more to clean up than to run. Banning photo radar—a source of much-needed income which saves many lives—makes about as much sense as banning surveillance cameras in stores. And, of course, the governor wants to sentence us to excruciating noise from F-35s. Together with Giffords and McCain, Brewer can lead Arizona to Third World status before their terms are done, and we can try to pick up the pieces.

David Ray

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