As we argued before, an elegant approach to resolving grazing disputes, regenerating dryland ecology, saving taxpayer dollars, and aiding the rural economy, is to allow ranchers to accept money in exchange for retiring their permits to graze livestock on public lands. (Our description is here .)

The esteemable High Country Newsdevotes its current cover story to this proposal and its slow progress across the American West. It’s got special traction in central Oregon.

But the best part of the story package is an interview with Andy Kerr (which is convenient, because its the only part of the package available for free to nonsubscribers on the website).

The crux of Andy’s pitch:

The market for cattle ranchers has changed; today, there is intense international competition in the beef industry that makes grazing on vast acreages in the arid West uneconomical. Plus, we’ve changed the rules. Ranchers have to deal with federal laws protecting water and endangered species, and also with more recreational users who don’t understand or respect ranching.

The public-lands ranching industry is going extinct; not as fast as the sage grouse or the grizzly, but it is going extinct. And the buyout is a fair way to address this inevitability. It’s a politically elegant solution: The golden saddle.