It's possible for people and wildlife to thrive side by side on the plains. The key is to work collaboratively with everyone who has a stake in this precious resource, from ranchers to nomadic herdsmen, from energy companies to government policy-makers.
Like the vested interests Villaraigosa referenced, industrial agriculture is holding fast to the methods of its poisonous assault. But these are issues we can choose to fight at the supermarket. Or at the farmer's market.
"I've been a rancher since I was a little bitty girl," Wynona Winters says. "My grandfather and grandmother were ranchers, and my daddy was a rancher, and I married a rancher. I'm 77. Ranching is my love. I think you have to love ranching to do it."
Melton is worried about proposed natural gas drilling in the Thompson Divide, which borders his property. He estimates that half of his business is done on leased national forest lands where he takes guests on rides through the summer and leads hunting trips in the fall.
With the vast majority of gas-rich public lands in Colorado leased and already slated for development, it's more urgent than ever that these assessments are made and community voices are heard before more of our forgotten wilderness areas disappear.
Most people still see "conservation" and "ranching" as two very separate, and often incompatible, objectives. But farms and ranches should coexist with event our most important native predator species.