For his protest against rising tourism, Utah rancher lets his cows do the, uh, talking


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Boulder rancher Mark Nelson has a beef with his town’s touristy direction, so he did what Americans typically do: He protested. But he did something else that Americans typically don’t do: He turned his own cows into message boards.

Last week, as he prepared to turn eight head of cattle loose outside the scenic southern Utah hamlet he calls home, Nelson took some black paint and a brush and went to work, crafting a note for fellow residents of Garfield County.

“COWS NOT CONDOS,” he splashed on the left side of one cow and the right side of another before putting them out on State Road 12.

“By 5 p.m.,” the rancher said. “I had people calling me who saw it on the Internet.”

Among those who photographed the graffitied cows was Cayanna Davis, a Boulder high schooler who posted the image on social media, where it has bounced around cyberspace.

“I am amazed,” Nelson said after getting a call from an upstate reporter. “It’s wintertime, and no one’s around. I’m totally living in the past, I guess.”

But it’s Boulder’s future that prompted him to deface his own cows.

Utah’s fights over national monuments have drawn global attention in remote towns like Boulder, located on the edge of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which President Donald Trump reduced by nearly half a year ago.

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