Selected essays by Courtney White


The Quivira Coalition

Introducing our effort to build bridges between ranchers, environmentalists, scientists, and public land managers.

Originally published in Range magazine, Winter 1999.

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The New Ranch: a Definition

A brief definition of a term that I coined back in 1997.

Originally published in The Quivira Coalition Newsletter (vol.7, no.4) April 2006

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An Invitation to Join the Radical Center

Twenty ranchers, scientists and conservationists wrote a declaration calling for an end to the grazing wars and inviting people to join the emerging radical center.

Originally read at the Quivira Coalition’s 2nd Annual Conference, January 2003.

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The Working Wilderness: a Call for a Land Health Movement

Rethinking the conservation movement from the ground up.

Originally published by Wendell Berry in his collection of essays The Way of Ignorance in November 2005

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Land Health: A Common Language to Describe the Common Ground Beneath Our Feet

This essay examines the language of land health as a basis for collaboration.

Originally published as Chapter Ten in Conservation for a New Generation, Island Press, 2008

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Prologue to Revolution on the Range: the Rise of the New Ranch in the American West

“In 1996, I had an anguished question on my mind: why didn’t environmentalists and ranchers get along better? In theory they shared many of the same hopes and fears – a love of wildlife, a deep respect for nature, an appreciation for a life lived outdoors, and a common concern for healthy water, food, fiber, and liberty. That was the theory anyway…”

Originally published by Island Press in May 2008

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The Gift

This essay explores how to restored damaged ecosystems by “thinking like a creek.”

Originally published as Chapter Ten of Revolution on the Range, it also appeared in Ecological Restoration, 2009

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Mugido: Rethinking the Federal Commons

This essay explores a new vision for public lands based on collaboration and land health.

Originally published in The Quivira Coalition Newsletter, 2006

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Grassbank 2.0

Building on what we learned from the Valle Grande Grassbank (coauthored with Craig Conley).

Originally published in Rangelands magazine, June 2007

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Corner Turned: The Chico Basin Ranch

An example of why the so-called ‘grazing wars’ faded away, thanks to ranchers like Duke Phillips.

Originally published in the Quivira Coalition’s journal Resilience, October 2006

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Stomp Restoration

Growing grass on a mine tailing with a ‘poop-and-stomp’ that uses FLOSBIES – four-legged organic soil builders (cattle).

Originally published in Farming magazine, Fall 2008

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On Normality

A rumination on our chaotic world and the ‘little normals’ that make life worthwhile.

Originally published in The Quivira Coalition’s journal Resilience, October 2008

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Conservation in the Age of Consequences

An essay on how conservation might meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Originally published in the Natural Resources Journal (Vol. 48, No.1), Winter 2008.

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No Ordinary Burger

Can a hamburger save the family ranch in the 21st century?

Published in Acres magazine in January 2011.

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The Carbon Ranch

This essay explores the possibility of large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere through plant photosynthesis and related land-based carbon sequestration activities, including cattle ranching.

Published in the Society for Range Management’s Rangelands magazine in April 2011.

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Four Farms…Down Under

“I had the pleasure recently of spending twelve days in Australia, visiting four amazing farms, giving a talk to a carbon farming conference, and having my brain saturated with a cavalcade of innovation. I was impressed by Aussie inventiveness, by their open, upbeat, and nonconformist ways, and by their willingness to tackle topics that Americans shy away from…”

Originally published in Farming Magazine, Winter 2011

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Walking the Talk

“Talk of ecosystem services is all the rage today among academics, activists, agencies, and policy-makers. But for ranchers Tom and Mimi Sidwell, who produce grassfed beef in the high, dry plains of eastern New Mexico this talk is old news. That’s because they have been delivering ecosystem services for decades – they just didn’t know it had an official name.”

Originally published in Acres magazine (cover story), December 2011

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Building Resilience: Lessons from a Decade on Comanche Creek

Lessons learned from a major watershed restoration project on the Valle Vidal unit of the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico, implemented by the staff of the Quivira Coalition under the direction of Bill Zeedyk.

Coauthored with Avery Anderson and Tamara Gadzia.

Originally published in the Quivira Coalition journal Resilience, January 2012

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Restoring Land Health to Small Properties: Lessons from the Red Canyon Reserve

The Quivira Coalition inherited a 320-acre parcel of land south of Socorro, New Mexico, in early 2003. Our success in restoring the land to health on a shoestring budget in a short period of time can provide important lessons for other landowners.

Coauthored with Steve Carson, Cullen Hallmark, and Kirk Gadzia.

Originally published in the Quivira Coalition journal Resilience, January 2012

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Reflections from a “Do” Tank: Quivira and Conservation in the West

My reflections on the Radical Center, the New Ranch, Land Health, and Collaborative Conservation on Public Lands. We helped many of these ideas and practices move from the fringe in 1997 to the mainstream of conservation during my tenure as Executive Director of the Quivira Coalition.

Originally published in the Quivira Coalition journal Resilience, January 2012

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The Fifth Wave: Agrarianism and the Conservation Response in the American West

“Social movements are like ocean waves. They gather strength, grow and become an effective agent of change for a while. At their height, they either succeed outright in their goals or else begin to fade as circumstances evolve and their effectiveness declines. In the American West, the conservation response to natural resource depletion and crisis has followed this pattern. There have been four distinct waves of conservation—federalism, environmental­ism, scientism, and collaboratism. Each is now in a different stage of the “back-to-sea” cycle, making way for an emerging fifth wave—agrarianism.”

Originally published in the Quivira Coalition journal Resilience, January 2012

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Pasture Cropping: a Regenerative Idea from Down Under

Pasture cropping is an innovative farming method that integrates annual crop production, such as oats, with perennial pastures that are subsequently grazed by livestock. It improves soil health, grows food, and sustains wool-bearing sheep.

Originally published in Acres magazine, July 2012

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Prologue to The Age of Consequences

“This book was born on a sunny summer day in 2006 when I stepped out of a movie theater into the warm embrace of a lazy afternoon. Gen and I had finally found a convenient time to see former vice-president Al Gore’s inconvenient documentary on global warming with its dire warnings of environmental and social turmoil ahead. I was especially disturbed by the graphic images of rising sea water snaking through the streets of Manhattan, Shanghai and other low-lying cities around the globe. As we stepped off the curb, blinking in the bright sunlight after the movie, I quipped to Gen “We’d better see Venice, quick.””

Originally published by Counterpoint Press, January 2015

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