Since the ranch was established, we have had a keen interest in taking care of the land. There are several places on the ranch that tell tales of mistakes made by generations past. Some places were farmed that should not have been. Plow furrows and rock piles tell the story of hours of hard work, only to have the topsoil run down the creek. Some pastures were overstocked year after year. Washouts and deep, parallel cattle trails near water sources reveal what too many cattle for too much time with too little moisture can do.
It is hard to blame them. Many times, they were doing the best they knew how, with the burden of a hungry and growing family to care for. We are determined to learn from their mistakes, and use the knowledge we have gained about conservation and grazing management to make the land better for the next generation.
Unfortunately, there are many people who believe that “conservation” and “preservation” mean the same thing. Some believe that the best we can do is to completely remove ourselves from nature, and it will heal itself and do just fine. In the prairie ecosystem at least, that simply won’t work. Too much has already happened for us to just walk away. Remember, this “wild frontier” was tamed – by putting out fires, removing the bison, and seeding our “improved” plant species brought from the Old Country. These three changes can’t be undone, particularily the introduction of new plant species. The best we can do now is learn to manage this altered ecosystem, and use the tools available to mimic what nature did for years before the settlers arrived.
Our conservation practices generally fall into one of three management categories: