Skip to Content

The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

Every Day is Earth Day

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

With Earth Day celebrated on April 22, I’ve been thinking about how some individuals respond to the holiday one day out of the year, while others live by it every day.

Some use the day to point fingers and complain about the way the Earth is going, saying we only have less than 10 years to save the planet, while others search for long-term management objectives to make the land better for future generations. 

For those living and working on the land every day, it is easier to identify changes in the land – some good, some not so good. 

Grazing cattle and sheep as a tool to improve land has been proven to be a less expensive method to use. Although some have painted a bullseye on cattle and sheep, they can be great tools. I have used cattle to restore riparian areas over a span of seven to eight years and have pictures taken every year to prove it.

Individuals in the past have said rivers and streams are nature’s way of removing silt from the uplands. We all want a pristine moving body of water, but nature doesn’t allow for these conditions all the time. With dams in our major rivers in the West, we are, at times, increasing flows to provide better fish habitat. 

Every drought reminds us of just how important water is to the West and the need to store and manage it through dams and irrigation of crops. In the Western U.S., we are so lucky to be headwater states with our major rivers starting as streams in the mountains. The management of our streams and rivers is critical to downstream users.

For the last couple of weeks, Peggy and I traveled around Iceland with a small group of alumni and others from the University of Wyoming. If you ever want to see how land management is done right, Iceland is the place to go. 

I don’t believe they know what a drought is, as major glaciers in the middle of the country provide water for farming, livestock grazing and electricity. As you drive around the outside of the island, you are always crossing a stream or river headed for the ocean.

The whole island is  made of lava rock, except for cleared fields for crops. All of the fields have drainage ditches running through them to drain them of all the rain water.

One could say Iceland has central heat with all of the geothermal water produced from beneath the surface. Most everyone, whether they live in towns, cities or farms, utilizes this hot water which is piped all over, much as we do with fiber optics. 

One of the best parts of the visit was not seeing trash or junk laying around. The farmyards, towns and tourists areas were all clean. It was great to see the pride they have in their lands.

In Iceland, sheep are the major species of livestock, and horses follow in second. We saw a lot of horses being fed hay, while the sheep were all housed in big barns for the winter. 

Earth Day should be an everyday occurrence with a positive note. It shouldn’t just be a day to point fingers on an issue most don’t know anything about. Those who live and work on the land realize it is a year-round job ensuring a future for agriculture.

Back to top