Dusty Crary is a Montana rancher and a conservative who generally votes Republican, and his family has owned the same piece of land since the 1930s. He also happens to be a conservationist, as the new documentary Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman, airing on the Discovery Channel this August, shows. Upending partisan stereotypes about environmentalists, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman profiles land-owning Americans who don't call themselves environmentalists—but are behind some of the most important conservation work in the country.
Based on journalist Miriam Horn's book of the same name, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman turns its lens specifically toward the Great Plains farmers and Gulf Coast fishermen who rely on the environment for their livelihoods. Some 70 percent of voters in Western states, including Montana, Colorado, and Wyoming, consider themselves conservationists. Meanwhile, the effects of climate change—such as extreme weather events, drought, and changing temperatures—have been associated with reducing agriculture's crop yield. In Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman, conservationism isn't an abstract concept—instead, for its heartland characters, it is a means of preserving their land, communities, and way of life.
A version of this story originally appeared in the August/September 2017 issue of Pacific Standard.