Valer Austin: An Amateur Rancher Brings the Wastelands of the Southwest Back to Life

Heroes for the Earth-Gaia. Happy Earth Day Week
Valer Austin is my new Hero. In the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt and Rachel Carson, this amazing woman is showing the world how to restore land for all people! Read this amazing Article from Sept. 2012 found in the O Magazine (that I got for Free at the library!).

tscout's picture

    I was really touched by this story. It made me realize how much I miss this kind of work. I did the same thing on a smaller scale during my 15 years in taos, including one two year project in the eastern deserts of New Mexico. In reality, it is so simple, and she stated this near the beginning of the article. The water ( due to mis-treatment of the land) was just racing through the land causing destruction, rather than nurturing it. Anyone who backs up and looks at it can see that all that is necessary is to slow the water down,  and keep it on the land for as long as really is that simple. With people owning small pieces of land,,,they rarely look at the big picture. It is a great metaphor for how so many of us live our lives, only worrying about how something affects us. 

    Many cities in the southwest,,,and elsewhere have seen their aquifers dry up. They blame it on the increase in populations,,,but, in reality, most of the problem is related to what they do when it rains. They have to do something fast when it rains,,as everything is paved, so they run it off into concrete arroyos, and dump it into the nearest river,,,decimating the eco-system in the river, and never re-feeding the aquifer beneath the city. Silly huh? Seattle, of all places, did a project years ago to thwart this,,and it worked. Up there, they had decimated the salmon population by running their rain water into the river. They gave people incentives to build catches in their yards,(and some of the materials were free).They built these beautiful little gardens to catch their rainwater in their yards, and re-percolate it into the ground. They also have pavements there now that let the water throught it, where it is fed into huge swales that re-percolate the water, and a couple of other basic tricks. This one project ,,,about 3 million dollars, cut run-off into the river 85 percent in the first year! Then, the water table of the river stabilized, and stayed more constant,as the water creeped in slowly, filtered by the simple!

   I have built these little dams all over in the mountains around Taos, even strawbales will work,as, by the time they break down, the silt level has risen enough to change the eco-system there...just as it did with her big rock-bale dams she was using in San Bernadino. It is really inspiring to see someone doing this on a larger scale, and she must be in awe when she looks across those vast stretches of land out there and sees the results....I am going to try to write her a letter,,,I would love to help out there in some way.,,,,,,L,,,,,,,,T

I have discovered another Heroes for the Earth: Gifford Pinchot. Gifford Pinchot was a man way ahead of his time. He lived in the later half of the 19thC and the earlier half of the 20th Century.
I learned of Gifford Pinchot via clicking on an education box via I bless who ever designed the front page for the Bing search engine with Love.
A true hero for the Earth.

Hi TScout:

I would LOVE to go on a tour of her ranches and attend one of her hummingbird banding parties-- or just listen to her tell of her inspiration.  Returning land to clean clear pristine conditions is one of my passions... I do it in little ways right now... but sometime in the future, I feel I too will be called to do this work and with the necessary means to do so.

Today, I helped out at the Odiorne Park in Rye, NH.  They are rebuilding the coastal marsh forests and ecosystem there after centuries of domestication of the land... not complete desecration like in the Southwest of USA but a general domestication of the land.  It was so beautiful to see the native species being nurtured back to naturalization.  It is early spring here, so the little plants of the coastal forests can be seen, the trees are just beginning to bud out... except for the Apple trees which are in bloom.

I too feel a need to reach out and connect to Valer Austin.  Such a shining beautiful Soul.

I bless all with Love.


Brian's picture

How beautiful and inspiring. I needed that.

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