Our Philosophy

Biodiversity = sustainability.

To date scientists have described 1.7 million of the world's species of animals, plants, insects and algae—and they’ve not all been described…or discovered. The number, while vast, is less important than the point it makes: nature requires diversity.

Ecosystems and food chains are intricately woven from a wide variety of plants, animals and soil life that have evolved and adapted to their specific location. Diversity of life, known as biodiversity, provides an insurance policy against uncertainty. For instance, a drought descends. Some plants can tolerate the intermittent dryness better than others. Those that do continue to provide food and cover during the extreme period, helping sustain the wildlife.

Biodiversity also ensure necessary relationships exist. Pollinators and plants. Predators and prey. Even legumes and nitrogen fixing bacteria in the soil. When those vital relationships function optimally, the overall health of the attendant ecosystem is elevated.

Biodiversity minimizes risk and increases sustainability. A monoculture, whether in production agriculture or in a pasture of introduced grass, is a weak link in life’s chain. A single disease. A single catastrophe. A single drought can wipe it from the earth’s face without a replacement.

First at Circle Ranch and now at Pitchstone Waters, we manage by maximizing biodiversity. It’s good for production, it’s good for the bottom line and it’s good for the planet.

In our world, we don’t label a species “good” or “bad.” We’ve come to understand all species can play a role in a healthy environment if—and it’s a big if—they are in balance.

As a result, we focus on the big picture. We truthfully assess where the land and the wildlife are now, using proven scientific methods and ongoing observation to ground our findings in truth. Then, we determine where we want the land and the wildlife to be in the future, striking a balance between the needs of the species as well as ecological and economic necessity.

Holistic management, the process of looking at the whole picture, is not a quick fix but a series of slow, measured steps toward healthier and better. Quite honesty, there are often missteps along the way. The beauty of paying close attention, though, is that you notice things going wrong before permanent damage is done.

Nature didn’t put all of her biological eggs in one basket—and neither do we.

Wildlife and habitat only prosper when their ecosystem is in balance.

First at Circle Ranch and now at Pitchstone Waters, we manage by maximizing biodiversity. It’s good for production, it’s good for the bottom line and it’s good for the planet. In our world, we don’t label a species “good” or “bad.” We’ve come to understand all species can play a role in a healthy environment if—and it’s a big if—they are in balance.

Holistic Management

Is a value-based decision-making framework that integrates all aspects of planning for social, economic and environmental considerations.

Industrial Agriculture

Efficiencies gained through chemical fertilizers and pesticides, allowing fewer people to produce more livestock and crops, intensifying and industrializing agriculture.

Institutions

Over time institutions—land grant universities, state and federal conservation agencies, NGOs and grassroots conservation organizations and big business—have become as inextricably linked as the ecosystems they explore, manage and regulate.

Invasive Species Biology

Since the beginning of time, species have spread and contracted their ranges. A variety of factors including weather and climate influenced their spread and movement.

Beavers Rule the Roost at Crater Lake

Whether we are talking about bears, bison or beavers, the best safety rule with wild animals is this: “Do not invade their space.” It is amazing how often the rule is violated.  

25 Years After Returning to Yellowstone, Wolves Have Helped Stabilize The Ecosystem

As discussed in the article below, “by reducing elk numbers and thinning out weak and sick animals, wolves are helping create more resilient elk herds.”   This is true, but another likely reason for falling […]

Soil-Carbon Cowboys

A new documentary series in 10 parts (paddocks) directed by Peter Byck …please watch soil-carbon cowboys first.       

Controlling Weeds in Idaho

A Forb is a herbaceous, flowering plant other than grass. Unwanted forbs are generally dubbed “weeds.” Herbicides used for “weed” control almost always harm habitat and wildlife. On Pitchstone Waters, we manage our weeds unconventionally—to […]

These Large Carnivorous Lizards Are Right Where They Belong

“As discussed below, many species considered “invasive” are “natives” – not “exotics”.

Scientists Disagree on Bison Impacts to Yellowstone’s Northern Range

“According to Yellowstone’s senior bison biologist who is quoted below, Yellowstone is the only place in North America with a complete set of predators and herbivores – both of which shape their habitat in ways […]

Take ‘Charisma’ Into Account When Managing Invasive Species, Scientists Say

As Groucho Marx asked all those years ago, “Who are you going to believe: Me, or your lying eyes?”   According to the doubtful premise underlying invasive species biology, any new creature entering a system […]

Could an Invasive Snail Save Your Morning Coffee?

More often than not, “invasive” plants and animals are responding to human damage to ecosystems. So-called exotics are usually viewed as competitive to the systems where they have arrived, but on closer study, most turn […]

A Natural Classroom, Run by Wolves

 Wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone has been a scientific and tourism bonanza.

Pablo Escobar’s Hippos Fill a Hole Left Since Ice Age Extinctions

According to the article below—and the study on which it is based—humans have caused the extinction of many large animals over the past 100,000 years. This has changed ecosystems greatly, generally for the worse.   […]

If Crop Insurance Rewarded Conservation Practices, Would More Farmers Go No-Till?

“As described below, a private task force is developing a crop insurance product that would reward farmers for adopting regenerative conservation practices.  If the task force succeeds and the product is approved by the Federal Crop […]

Coronavirus Outbreak Shows The Risk in Ignoring Human Activity’s Impact on Nature

Paraphrasing the authors of the article below, “The role of healthy, intact ecosystems is being overlooked, together with the essential link between human, domestic animal and wildlife health. Biodiversity — the richness of life on […]

Mountain Goat Removal Temporarily Closes Areas Of Grand Teton National Park

According to the article below, the National Park Service (NPS) has decided to exterminate wild mountain goats in the Teton-Yellowstone Parks because they (1) are non-native, (2) “compete” with bighorn and (3) might infect them […]

The Resistance to Holistic Wildlife Management

Across the West as well as in Texas, agencies, universities, governmental and conservation organizations resist holistic wildlife and agricultural management practices. Most Western public grazing rules make holistic grazing very difficult if not impossible  In this […]

Massive Juniper Tree-Cutting Project Aims to Aid Sage Grouse

According to the article below: “Overall, sage grouse numbers have dwindled from an estimated 16 million before European settlement of the West to no more than 500,000 today in 11 western states. The project that […]

Stewardship with Vision – Episode 2: Malpai Borderlands Group

In the high desert of southern Arizona and New Mexico, almost a million acres of important habitats and nearly 30 at-risk species are being protected and conserved…by a coalition of ranchers who manage from “The […]

New Numbers Show Conservation Soil-Tilling Method as Profitable as Conventional Ways

Conservation soil tillage is a proven farming practice that would work great around Pitchstone Waters in Idaho’s Teton Valley. As the authors describe, conservation tillage involves less work and produces more profit for farmers. In […]

Rotational Cattle Grazing to Restore Degraded Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands and Promote Watershed Health

Describing the Mimms Ranch in Marfa, Texas, the authors write, “The Foundation aims for practical conservation, with the belief that restored grasslands improve overall watershed health, resources for native wildlife, and continued support of ranching.”

Rancher Focuses On Keeping His Land Healthy

Plants and animals evolved together over many millions of years. In so doing, they grew to need each other. As a result, plants need animals as much as animals need plants. This is the basic […]

Protecting America’s Duck Factory

As described in the article below, the success of waterfowl conservation efforts proves it is possible to save bellwether species. This conservation success stands in stark contrast to the fate of other iconic species like […]

Stewardship with Vision – Episode 1: Jeff Laszlo

As a result of the O’Dell Creek restoration, Granger Ranches has documented a 900% increase in waterfowl species and a 600% increase in species diversity. The ranch now hosts at least fifteen species of concern, […]