A Future of Ranching in the San Luis Valley, Colorado

By area, livestock grazing is the single largest land use across the San Luis Valley, across the state of Colorado, and across the United States. While livestock producers are not often seen as conservationists in environmental spaces, ranchers steward private and public landscapes that provide ecosystem services and support plant, wildlife, and human communities across the West. Kathleen’s research investigates the future of ranching under ongoing, 21st-century drought, and the ability of ranchers to adapt and respond to increasing social and environmental pressures. Kathleen will assess how ranchers’ ideological and political views can support or inhibit collaboration in building a resilient future for agriculture. Kathleen is using the San Luis Valley, an arid, high-elevation basin located in south-central Colorado, as a case study for considering larger trends within rural communities across the western United States. Her research involves in-depth interviews with livestock producers across the valley. Kathleen’s research will be useful in establishing effective and culturally appropriate means to improve the viability of ranching economies and conserve grazing lands across the West.



Kathleen Voight, Research Assistant and Western Resource Fellow | Kathleen Voight is a Master of Environmental Science candidate focused on the conservation and management of working lands in the Rocky Mountain West. Her research focuses on agricultural viability, resiliency, and drought adaptation in livestock grazing systems in southern Colorado. Kathleen believes working lands are essential to western landscapes that support rural communities and healthy ecosystems. Prior to matriculating at the Yale School of the Environment, Kathleen worked in agriculture, conservation, and environmental education. Kathleen holds a BA in History of Art from Yale University and she is a former Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Fellow. In her free time, Kathleen likes to bike, hike, and ski as often as possible. See what Kathleen has been up to.  |  Blog