Hanna Ranch: The tribulations of the Colorado rancher

Photo courtesy of Hanna Ranch Movie.

The award-winning 2013 documentary, Hanna Ranch, will be making its Boulder debut tonight at Chautauqua Community House.

The 75-minute film highlights the efforts of Kirk Hanna, a Colorado native dubbed “eco-rancher” for his push for Holistic Resource Management in the West’s deeply-ingrained ranching industry.

“It’s still a relevant issue,” says Hanna Ranch director, Mitch Dickman. Kirk Hanna, who took his own life in 1998, has a legacy that matters today more than ever. Hanna served on several boards including serving as president of the Colorado Cattleman’s Association, fighting for environmental rights and advocating Holistic Resource Management to fellow ranchers.

“When I first read about it, I thought it would be this environmental soapbox story,” admits Dickman, whose Denver production agency, Listen Productions, is committed to producing socially conscious art in the form of film, video, and theater. “Nothing is black and white, though,” he says, “family life is equally as important.”

Kirk Hanna dedicated his life to defending his property from urban sprawl, an issue still thriving in the Colorado Springs area. “It’s not just houses, but everything that comes with it,” explains Dickman. The waste water treatment facilities, roads, and utility facilities all contribute to loss of ranching land. And in the ranching business, failure doesn’t mean the loss of a job, it means the loss of a lifestyle and of land that is as embedded in a family’s DNA as eye color.

The film documents Kirk’s surviving family, the current Hanna Ranch proprietors. Though it addresses Kirk’s vision for sustainable ranching, the documentary ties in issues of conflicting family interest, multi-ownership of the ranch, and whether or not these sustainable methods are realistically going to appeal to the modern-day rancher. He worked hard to bridge the gap between ranchers and environmentalists, a party ranchers hardly viewed as allies.

As “Fast Food Nation” and “Food, Inc.” author and Hanna Ranch executive producer, Eric Schlosser, points out, there is a current struggle between what the West once was and the population increase it faces today.

The film starts at 7:30pm and a discussion with Mitch Dickman will follow. Tickets are $15 ($12 for members).

Can’t make it? Purchase Hanna Ranch on iTunes or catch it at another Colorado showing.

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