“Buy land, they aren’t making more of it.”
“Buy land. They ain't making any more of the stuff.”
You’re likely familiar with these two quotes, which express the same sentiment. The former is attributed to Mark Twain; the latter to Will Rogers. Neither were ever uttered by either, according to Ralph Keyes in his book "The Quote Verifier."
At least, that’s what my Googling is telling me today. Who can be bothered with a deep dive when you’re on deadline and trying to come up with a compelling lede for a column?
Yes, lede. And that’s a subject for which you may also Google the internet.
Now, nearly a half hour into trying to Google my way into a lede, I was led to a quote attributed to a Wyoming cowboy expressing the same sentiment in an article that first ran in a 1909 edition of Up-to-the-Times, an “illustrated monthly magazine about city and rural life in the Inter-Mountain Pacific Northwest, with a focus on Walla Walla, Washington” according to its online entry with the Arminda Collections, Penrose Library at Whitman College.
A genuine Wyoming cowboy expressing a sentiment that’s still relevant today? Now, that’ll lead!
“The Lord ain’t makin’ no more land, and the feller that wants a farm better get it quick.”
A sentiment that remains as true today as when it was said by that cowboy more than a century ago. And for many of us in the Mountain West, there’s a fear much of the land that’s here will be sliced and diced into thousands of julienne fries in the veritable Veg-O-Matic of urban sprawl. Hidden Valley Ranchlet dipping sauce not included.
With a little less than six people per square mile, it’s hard to believe anyone would feel like a sardine in our state’s tin can. Don’t fence me in, though. As we know, just because there’s land to live on, it doesn’t mean we can live on the land.
That’s why our roads run where our rail lines ran, where our stagecoaches ran, where our wagons ran, where our Plains Indian tribes ran, where our wildlife ran — and that’s where they can! Because it’s really hard to run this land of little water, tall peaks and deep valleys.
But it’s those tall peaks and deep valleys spread across open spaces as far as the eye can see that give our home its characteristic feel. That open space, along with the working lands, ranches, bird and wildlife habitat and clean water flowing through it are what the Sheridan Community Land Trust has strived to conserve since it was first founded 15 years ago as a direct result of a community needs assessment where community members identified the loss of open space and working lands as one of the greatest threats facing Sheridan County.
In that time, SCLT has worked with local families to conserve working land, open space, clean streams, wildlife habitat and more at 11 sites across Sheridan County. As you read this, SCLT is working with four families to conserve their ranches so they will remain in agricultural production and open space for birds and wildlife for perpetuity.
SCLT voluntary conservation agreements help families pass working land from one generation to the next, can aid ranchers by buying down debt, conserve key habitat for wildlife, birds, fish and plants, and ensure the essential character that makes our home special today remains special forever.
Beyond conservation agreements, SCLT assisted with the first-ever study of mule deer movements in the northern Bighorns, removed invasive grasses and plants and are implementing ways to build drought resiliency — all of which we do by working with local landowners. We are in the final phase of interviews for our first ever conservation program manager.
But we can’t keep conserving local lands and ranches without your help.
That’s why we’re hosting SCLT In Bloom, presented by Sheridan Media, on Wednesday, Oct. 20, from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Whitney Center for the Arts at Sheridan College.
You’ll learn about ecology and conservation through the lens of Ronan Donovan, a National Geographic Fellow, who spent a year filming wolves in Yellowstone. His work has been featured in or used by National Geographic Magazine, the Smithsonian, BBC and PBS Nature to name a few. His time in the Canadian High Arctic culminated in the three-part TV series “Kingdom of the White Wolf” which can be seen on Disney+. In fact, he’s just wrapping up a second trip to the High Arctic. That work will be featured in "Planet Earth" series three.
Ronan has many captivating stories to share from his time documenting wildlife in wild places around the world. He’s also kindly donated photography lessons for up to four people — something you can bid on during the evening’s live auction. The live and silent auctions are filled with great prizes and experiences, the folks at Weatherby have donated a shotgun for our raffle and with complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, In Bloom is sure to be great fun.
Ronan will even answer questions from you. But you can only ask them if you come. Learn more and RSVP today at sheridanclt.org.
I hope you will bring your friends and join us at In Bloom as we work to raise funds SCLT will use to conserve local lands and ranches. And we’ll have a ton of fun doing it.
So, here’s my new lede: “Conserve land, they ain’t making more of it.”
You can Google it later.