MONTROSE, Colo. (KREX) — For most, ranching isn’t a job. It’s a tradition passed down through families like the Etcharts. “Father came to the U.S. in 1947 as a Shepard from the Basque country in France,” said Sheep Rancher Ernie Etchart.

Before commercial buildings, Sheep Rancher Ernie Etchart remembers a simpler time in Montrose. Etchart attests, “Everything here was ag and ag only. I mean maybe a little mining. Maybe a little bit of timber, but ag was the big driver.”

In addition to the beautiful views, agriculture is an economic driver for the community. “It provides revenue for Montrose County,” Etchart believes.

Aside from the monetary gain, Etchart wants to acknowledge the story ranching plays in the county. He stated, “It’s got a long-standing tradition, long-standing heritage, long-standing history here.”

The agriculture scene has changed since its first arrival in Montrose County in the late 1800’s. A lifestyle once heavily reliant on farm life now seems to hide in the shadows of community growth. “Ag does its thing on the outskirts of town it’s quiet,” Etchart stated.

Montrose County Commissioners backed the right to farm act and ranchers like Ernie believe it will benefit newcomers. Etchart mentioned, “Heighten awareness and give people a chance to do their research and see if that’s what they want to live by.”

The agricultural lifestyle has plenty to offer from fresh foods to open space. “It’s habit for wildlife, it’s something other than pavement in town they can come in look at, and maybe come in and experience,” Etchart attest.

Ranchers and farmers work to produce the best product possible. While most like Ernie are grateful the county reintroduced the right to farm act. Developments that suck up land and water in the midst of drought remain a serious challenge.

Etchart believes, “It’s going to be a challenge to work with and work through.” If ranchers and farmers can’t make it through. “Our only recourse is we’ll have to sell,” Etchart uttered.

Etchart believes it all boils down to one simple thing. “Mutual understanding of our needs and our concerns and to be able to find a way to work through that so we can be viable and remain viable,” Etchart echoed.