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.

Documents Detail Push To Manage Yellowstone Bison as Cattle

The article below summarizes various objections to managing Yellowstone bison more like cattle in order to control brucellosis, among other things. Yellowstone’s elk and bison are now a regional reservoir for this disease, which causes […]

Stewardship with Vision, Episode 9: Sieben Live Stock Company

Sieben Live Stock Company is a family owned and operated ranch in north central Montana which raises cattle and sheep. The Hibbard family believes proper grazing techniques can improve overall land health. Their practices include […]

When the Otters Vanished, Everything Else Started to Crumble

Quoting the authors of the article below, “In the Aleutian’s delicate seascape, otters hold the entire ecosystem together. As they have disappeared, the rest of the local food web has started to crumble.

Climate Change Mitigation is a Side Effect of Regenerative Ranching: Insights From Australia And The United States

“Whatever the causes of climate change, human damage to our environment cannot be denied. As the authors of this paper explain, more and more people are rejecting industrial agriculture in favor of regenerative (restorative) ag […]

Escaped Exotics Animals are Changing the Texas Landscape

Quoting the author of the article below, “There’s an idea that gets played with in progressive futurist circles sometimes: the notion of deliberately engineering landscapes to mimic our understanding of their past shape. Quietly, without […]

Save a Sage Grouse, Drop a Fence Line

“As discussed in the article below, barbed wire fences are dangerous to grouse. Apparently grouse don’t see the wires, so they fly in to them. Many are killed. As the authors explain, there are many […]

Releasing Beaver on the Fall River in Idaho, 5-Miles from Yellowstone Park

This video of Pitchstone Waters’ second beaver release during the summer of 2020 contains excellent remarks by staff of the Idaho Fish and Game Department.   Releasing Beaver on the Fall River in Idaho, near […]

Ranching Alongside Predators in an Idaho Forest

“Using domestic animals to restore overgrown forest near Yellowstone Park in Idaho.”

National Parks are Being Overrun By Invasive Species

As this article points out, people introduce the vast majority of so-called invasive species worldwide.   What the article doesn’t mention is that we humans are the world’s most destructive invaders. Or, that of the […]

Stewardship with Vision, Episode 7: San Juan Ranch

This Western Landowners Alliance film by filmmaker Jason Roehrig features Colorado cattle ranchers George Whitten and Julie Sullivan, whose stewardship has restored and increased healthy biological processes while providing for a sustainable ranching model.

Hunting Is Conservation: A Paradox Explained

Quoting the authors of the article below, ” Non-hunters are often surprised to learn that it was hunters who spearheaded the conservation efforts that rescued our nation’s wildlife from the cusp of extinction. The truth […]

Allan Savory on Permaculture and Holistic Management

Here is a very interesting interview with the ecologist Allan Savory who, in the opinion of many, knows more about rangelands than anyone alive. He is best known for his discovery that global desertification can […]

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.