The Padlock Ranch in Sheridan County is being recognized for using sustainable management practices.
The Wyoming Stock Growers Association and the Sand County Foundation have chosen the 500,000-acre cattle ranch to receive the 2013 Leopold Conservation Award.
Padlock Ranch COO Trey Patterson says the ranch’s owners, the Scott family, are conservation minded. Patterson says that’s why they rotate the areas where cattle graze to allow grass to recover.
“It’s good from a conservation standpoint in that you get less soil erosion,” says Patterson. “You have plants that are more drought-tolerant. We got thought a year like we did this last year, where it was dry and we got very little precipitation… We still had good range production because of the practices that had been in place prior to that.”
Patterson says the ranch has also worked to restore the banks of the Tongue River, which runs through the property, to improve fish habitat there. They also leave a portion of rangeland un-grazed to promote bird and other wildlife habitat.
The Leopold Award sponsors, including EnCana Corporation and Peabody Energy, are providing the $10,000 in prize money.
Jim Magagna of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association says the Leopold Award is meant to raise awareness about sustainable practices on ranches of all sizes. He says ranchers have always worked to prevent waste and to be good stewards of their land because it’s cost effective.
“The public awareness of it, the discussion of it is certainly something that’s evolved in more recent years, and some of the scientific tools with which to do it more effectively are relatively new,” says Magagna.
Magagna says the Wyoming Stock Growers Association will lead a tour of the Padlock Ranch this summer to showcase its sustainable practices to the public.