We see economic diversification as being directly linked to responsible conservation. Conservation is rapidly becoming an industry-wide priority, but it has been a cornerstone of our operations for years, as it is on many ranches nationwide. We see ranching as the best alternative to managing large landscapes in the American West because we live on the land and have staked our livelihood on how well we take care of the ecosystems that maintain our businesses.
In our view,
Nature is where ranching starts.
Ranchlands’ management model always places the highest priority on restoring vegetative and wildlife ecologies. We use cattle as a tool to disturb the surface of the land to achieve conservation goals by recycling nutrients and improving the water cycle, mimicking the symbiotic relationship between the North American High Plains grasslands and the great bison herds of the past.
Goals may vary from managing strictly for wildlife habitat to seeking a specific biologic goal such as providing habitat for an endangered species, controlling erosion, managing exotic weed encroachment, or promoting resident wild game herds. In each of these scenarios, livestock stocking rates and grazing parameters are balanced with the desired objective.
Successful rehabilitation requires knowledge of animal behaviors, stocking rates, densities and grazing patterns, vegetative growth and dormancy seasons, moisture requirements, and ecosystem dynamics. Knowledge, therefore, is our primary tool. We try to understand the natural processes and to work within that dynamic.
In customizing our grazing tactics to each ranch, we evaluate riparian areas, aquifer systems, wildlife and vegetation ecologies, and work to tailor and execute an appropriate conservation plan. Part of our plan is to make contact with appropriate local conservation entities that can help with site specific expertise and resources. We can also consult on the provision of ecosystem services such as conservation easements, wetland mitigation banks, and carbon offsets.
Because we work closely with conservation organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, and the Colorado State Land Board, we are able to take advantage of science-based management methods and feedback to which ranchers have not traditionally been exposed. We see economic diversification as being directly linked to responsible conservation processes because it creates flexibility in determining livestock carrying capacities during drought, reducing the stress on the ecosystem.