The Malpai Borderlands Group is a coalition of ranchers and environmentalists who manage over 75,000 acres of grassland in Southeastern Arizona. Does that sentence look odd to you? The American West isn’t known for friendly hobnobbing between ranchers and environmentalists and often they work at cross purposes, wasting little love on each other. Their cultural division is mirrored in the landscape: ranches are populated almost exclusively by cattle while natural preserves often ban grazing. Two groups, two philosophies of land use, two different economic goals. Nothing to talk about. Deadlock. Antagonism.
That’s where Malpai comes in. It’s the story of enemies extending hands in cautious friendship and engaging in a small version of The Conversation. To learn more about Malpai, I spoke to Peter Warren of The Nature Conservancy, one of the partners in the group.