Sharing Stewardship - Conservation efforts shared with guests during Environmental Stewardship TourWritten by Natasha Wheeler
Cheyenne – “This is the 20th year of this program. It is referred to as the Wyoming Stock Growers Environmental Stewardship Program, but it’s much more than that,” remarked Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna at this year’s Environmental Stewardship Tour.
Magagna, along with many others, met at the King Ranch on June 14 to honor the Eisele family, winners of the 2015 Leopold Conservation Award. King Ranch is run by Mark and Trudy Eisele and their family, including daughters Kendall Roberts and Kaycee Scadden, son Colton Eisele and their spouses James Roberts, David Scadden and Miranda Eisele.
“Our focus on partnership is so important. I want to emphasize that,” he added. “A program like this only works when everyone comes together.”
Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Doug Miyamoto also praised the program.
“This is an opportunity for the industry to showcase that there is a right way to do these things and that we can provide a lot of environmental services and help with production agriculture,” Miyamoto said.
King Ranch, he noted, focuses on turning grass into beef.
“It’s based on production. It’s profitable. It’s a good business model, and that’s important,” he continued.
Due to its location, King Ranch faces many challenges in maintaining an environmentally- and economically-sustainable operation.
“They have a major military installation on one side. They have traditional energy development, they have wind energy development, they have a municipal dump and municipal water treatment facilities, and they have suburban and domestic development that goes on all around them,” Miyamoto remarked.
The Eiseles also utilize a Forest Service grazing allotment that has some the highest recreational use in the area.
“Despite all of those challenges, this ranch is still here. It’s still here, and it’s still profitable. They do good work, and it’s a showcase,” he added.
King Ranch, Miyamoto explained, serves as a model for successful ranching at the urban interface.
In the spirit of the event, he quoted Aldo Leopold, the award’s namesake, reading, “Cease being intimidated by the argument that the right action is impossible because it does not yield maximum profits, or that a wrong action is to be condoned because it pays.’”
Senator Mike Enzi echoed the sentiment, writing in a letter to the Eisele family, “This award encourages others to learn from the King Ranch’s example so that the methods they have found to be successful in their operation will come to the attention of other ranchers throughout the West.”
Enzi’s statement also noted that sound environmental policies and good economic practices go hand-in-hand and anything that ensures productivity of the land is also good for the bottom line.
“Anything that keeps the soil rich and irrigated will ensure its value is protected and preserved for future generations,” Enzi wrote.
Senator John Barrasso and Congressman Cynthia Lummis also sent representatives to express their appreciation for the stewardship award and the hard work of the Eisele family to earn such recognition.
In recognition of the efforts of the Eiseles and their predecessors the King family, Governor Matt Mead also attended the event.
“For all who are involved in ag, who support ag and who recognize the value of good stewardship, I want to thank you because in doing that, you are saying in a loud and clear voice that ag is critical for our state and it’s critical for our country,” Mead stated.
He emphasized his support for agriculture and supported the celebration of King Ranch achievement.
“They help their own bottom line, but they also help the whole state, and they help the image of ag,” Mead continued.
After hearing the Governor speak, guests were bussed to various sites, including one of the Eisele’s grazing allotments on Pole Mountain, a Duke Energy wind farm site, the High Plains Grasslands Research Station in Cheyenne and a set of fishing ponds on the King Ranch property.
Each tour stop highlighted some of the activities supported by the King Ranch, including energy production, hunting, fishing and research.
At Pole Mountain, Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland Rangeland Management Specialist Bob Mountain praised Mark Eisele, patriarch of the family, for his efforts in ranching, stating, “I believe that Mark Eisele knows an awful lot about an awful lot of things. But he is very humble about that and he doesn’t tell a lot of people that he knows that.”
But, Mountain added that whenever Eisele feels that his expertise can be beneficial, he is more than happy to share.
“He uses his experience and his compassion to help those in the industry – the friends, the neighbors and the acquaintances,” Mountain explained, adding that he freely shares information with friends and neighbors that experience challenges he has already navigated.
Eisele also invites children and students to his property to learn about agriculture.
“Mark teaches them about the rural lifestyle. He teaches them about livestock operations and management. He teaches them about the fact that farm and ranch products don’t just magically appear on the grocery shelves,” Mountain continued.
Eisele has also partnered with Mountain to discuss the importance of grazing on public lands with groups of Forest Service representatives, such as district rangers, forest supervisors and deputy regional foresters.
“He was a welcome addition to the teaching cadre of that group,” Mountain stated.
Throughout the tour, speakers complimented the entire Eisele family for their progressive work toward land stewardship and their willingness to share their operation and their expertise.
Mountain summed up much of the day’s thoughts, remarking, “Mark is very progressive, a strategic thinker and a true practitioner of multiple use. At the same time, he holds onto tradition and actively embraces and imparts the values of custom and culture.”
Numerous aspects of the King Ranch operation and the 2015 Environmental Stewardship Award were discussed in the Jan. 3 edition of the “Wyoming Livestock Roundup,” which can be found online at wylr.net.