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Tuesday, 14 March 2006

Economic Benefits of Grassland Protected Areas 

From Page 39 of the August 2005 Report
By Grassland Foundation



Doug Russell, a sixth-generation farmer from rural Fullerton, maintains that another major obstacle to success of ecotourism and agritourism is found in the attitude of some farmers and ranchers who are averse to land use change.

“Commodity farming won’t be enough anymore to save the family farm or our small communities,” Russell says. “Families can continue to farm, but they need to manage the land in a different way—the land that produces corn and beans can also produce tourism dollars. We need to do a better job of educating rural people about this great new commodity.”

Doug and his wife, Darla, are owner-operators of Broken Arrow Wilderness and Nebraska Outfitter. Commodity farming—corn, soybeans—have sustained the Russell family farm for nearly 130 years, but the Russells know those commodities alone will not sustain their way of life much longer. So they are marketing their way of life to tourists, hunters or anyone who wants to experience both the natural world and a way of life that is all but gone in much of the world.

The Russells have adapted their farm to accommodate many uses. Broken Arrow offers a number of camping options ranging from furnished cabins to teepees, and it is also a popular destination for conferences, retreats, weddings and other events. Through Nebraska Outfitters the Russells also offer guided hunting on their working farm.

‘Farmers need to learn to manage their land differently if they want to save our family farms and our small communities.’

“Hunting is probably the biggest income potential for most farmers, but what you learn is that most hunters who come from the cities or from out of state aren’t here just for the kill—there’s a better chance they won’t kill anything—what most come for is the experience, being outdoors on a real working farm,” he says. “After a hunt we’ll take them to the New Frontier Saloon in Belgrade—it’s a great atmosphere where everybody knows everybody else—the hunters from out of state just love it. It reminds them of a rural past that’s now gone in so many places.”

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 14 March 2006 )
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