The UCross Ranch received the Excellence in Rangeland Management Award for its integrated livestock, wildlife, education and conservation programs. The award recognizes outstanding examples of rangeland management that result in long-term health and sustainability of the range resource while providing efficient production of livestock, wood products, water wildlife, aesthetic values, recreation and other non-commodity values. This award also puts them in the running for the National SRM Rangeland Stewardship Award, to be given out during the February 2014 International SRM Meetings in Orlando, FL.
The UCross Ranch sits in northeast Wyoming in an area with a long history and tradition of rangeland-based agriculture. The Ranch has experienced a common suite of challenges facing many operations in this part of Wyoming – reclamation following energy development, invasive species, drought and change of ownership. The Apache Foundation had been managing the stewardship of natural resources since the late 1990’s and their long-term commitment to conservation and active management of the rangeland resources have lead to overall improvements to the Ranch. “To say that cooperation is key in this operation would be an understatement,” said Nathan Lindsey, manager of conservation and stewardship for Apache Foundation – Wyoming. “Energy leases, grazing leases, hunting operations, fishing and educational programs all require attention – sometimes simultaneously, and coordination among these diverse interests toward an overarching goal of ecological sustainability is key to their success.”
The Apache Foundation creatively implements many of the long-recognized standards of rangeland management. Extensive water developments over the past several years have increased flexibility of grazing and livestock distribution, and rotational multi-species grazing provides significant periods of recovery for desirable plants. The monitoring program includes data not only on rangeland condition, but also on wildlife populations, riparian condition, stream flow, erosion and soil stability, and other indicators of whole-ecosystem health. In addition, Barry Bauer and his family leases the grazing on the Ranch, incorporating both sheep and cattle grazing for production and to meet land management goals as grazing management is an integral component of the overall management strategy on the Ranch. The Apache Foundation is also strongly committed to educational and research partnerships and is currently working with UW, Yale School of Forestry, Kansas State, and Sheridan College on projects.
“Activity is sometimes confused with productivity, but not in this case,” says award nominator Brian Mealor, UW Extension Weed Specialist. “The many ongoing programs at UCross Ranch have already resulted in significant improvement to the resource base. Drastic reductions in base ground, reduced erosion in draws, reduced invasive weed populations, and increased forage productivity all reflect trends in the right direction for this conservation-minded program.” The Ranch is protected by a conservation easement with The Nature Conservancy, ensuring it will remain an intact agricultural operation into the future. Brian goes on to say, “Apache Foundations’ commitment to adaptively manage their resource base, and to providing research and educational opportunities that have impacts well beyond the Ranch’s borders, clearly demonstrate their excellence in rangeland management.”
NOMINATING PROCEDURES FOR EXCELLENCE IN RANGELAND STEWARDSHIP AWARD
1. Any member of the Wyoming Section, Society for Range Management may nominate a candidate for this award.
2. All nominations must be submitted on the standard nomination form and must be turned in to the Awards Chair by September 1 of each year.
3. Letters of recommendations are required, as appropriate, from the Nominee’s NRCS District Conservationist, BLM Area Manager, Forest Service District Ranger, County Agricultural Extension Agent or local soil and water conservation district. Letters should be attached to the application when submitted.
4. The Awards Committee will forward recommendations of award winners to the Wyoming Section Council by September 10 of each year. The Council will make final decision on award winner.
5. Each nomination must bear the signatures of two section members indicating that they have satisfied themselves that the individual is worthy of the award. These section members should personally field review the operation.
6. A maximum of four awards may be presented each year with no more than two award winners per year.
7. The Awards Chair or President will notify the nominators as to those selected or not selected.
8. The candidates selected for the award will be notified of their selection by the Section President by November lst and requested to attend the Annual Meeting to receive the award. Public announcement of the award will not be made until the award is presented at the Annual Meeting.
9. Recipients will receive a metal sign (20″ x 28″) that says “Excellence in Rangeland Stewardship Award” “Society for Range Management”. The recipients must agree to prominently display the sign on their ranch.
10. Recipients will receive a year complimentary subscription to the Wyoming Section-SRM Newsletter.
11. Nominations may be held over one year if not chosen.