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Wyoming People

Sun named 1992 Wyoming Agriculture Citizen of the Year

Written by Del Tinsley

Sun named 1992 Wyoming Agriculture Citizen of the Year
By Del Tinsley
1992 State Fair Edition, inserted Aug. 1, 1992
 
            The first ever Wyoming Agriculture Citizen of the Year Award, presented by the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, goes to Dennis Sun of the Sun Ranch, Alcova, for his work in developing the Cooperative Resource Management. Two different people and ranches nominated Dennis and his family.
            In 1985, then Wyoming Governor Ed Herscheler formed a State of Wyoming Stewardship Commission, which stared a movement that Dennis Sun picked up on and changed the way multiple use of federal lands will be decided for all interests.
            When this commission was formed in 1985, there were no funds appropriated and no facilitators appointed. The Sun Ranch, which is over 120 years old and among the top 10 ranches in the number of animal unit months (AUMs) in the United States, was the original ranch to become involved with this movement.
            Dennis Sun was very much aware of the need for cooperation, unity and understanding among the ranchers and the BLM for the multiple uses demanded of federal lands today.
            Sun stated, “We have one allotment on our ranch that takes multiple use to the limit, with mining, oil, gas, hang-gliding, fishing, hunting, camping and snowmobiling.”
            Without organization, he continued, the ranch would be with a limited voice in the use of federal lands.
            In 1987, the first meeting took place in a motel in Rawlins, forming what is known today as the Cooperative Resource Management (CRM). Dennis recall, at that first meeting, two different BLM management area officers, Land and Rawlins, were in attendance along with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Wyoming Wildlife Federation, and the Carbon County Extension Service.
            This action “Made everyone involved in the federal lands award of each others’ needs,” Sun said.
            Later, the movement was joined by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Audubon Society, Wyoming Nature Conservancy, Wyoming Fly Casters and Soil Conservation Service.
            The basic goal of this CRM ranch/natural resource management plan is to maintain, improve or enhance the long-term quality and productivity of all natural resources by achieving compatibility between livestock production, watershed values, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation and other multiple uses on the federal lands by using a team approach.
            “A win-win situation for everyone involved,” Sun said.
            During the past five years, the group has worked effectively and productively with all the interest groups. Every allotment is dealt with separately because of the different needs of each allotment, such as the development of springs, fencing, wildlife habitat and grazing use, etc.
            “The spirit of cooperation and the combined efforts has made the multiple use successful,” Sun said.
            For example, they are getting grants form people like the Audubon Society for water development. In fact, CRM has been so successful in Wyoming that other states are using it as a model program for their states. Sun is also a member of the Wyoming Stock Grower’s Association and the National Cattlemen’s Association. Here are what other said about 1992 Wyoming Agriculture Citizen of the Year, Dennis Sun, and the CRM:
            Craig Thomas, Wyoming Congressman to the U.S. House of Representatives: “I am impressed with the work Dennis has done with many issues. I’ve known Dennis to be a leader in efforts to combine the needs of the ranchers while meeting the concerns of those interested in the environment. Dennis should be commended for being able to communicate and work with these two groups – something which can be very difficult. Dennis has also continued to communicate with state and federal leaders and has represented his fellow ranchers very well.”
            Gordon Medlow, Wyoming Board of Agriculture: “Dennis has a sincere concern and care for the natural resources, both on his ranch and for the state of Wyoming. On his ranch, he has implemented grazing management changes, riparian improvements, wetland/waterfowl habitat developments and many other projects that have benefitted all the natural resources. He exhibits professionalism in all aspects of natural resource management and is willing to work to accomplish common goals with all interests.”
            Mike Sullivan, Governor of Wyoming: “The Sun Ranch is a part of Wyoming’s proud history. By adopting new and cooperative management techniques and by persevering while these innovations are proven effective on the ground, Dennis is demonstrating how the livestock industry can adapt to a changing world. He is a pioneer in showing how ranching will e a part of Wyoming’s future.”
            Darrell Walker, president of Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts: “Dennis Sun and the Sun Ranch are a tribute to the ranching, environmental and conservation efforts n Wyoming. Mr. Sun is an extremely environmentally conscious individual, which is evident through the outstanding practices he has initiated on the Sun Ranch. All of which are destines to improve the natural resources. What Dennis has offered not only to his own ranch, but to the state of Wyoming on a whole, is his contribution to other wishing to initiate change.”
            Alan K. Simpson, Wyoming Senator to the U.S. Senate: ‘I am aware of all of Dennis Sun’s various activities and civic interests. But most especially, I have been impressed by his good work in making the Sun Stewardship such a successful association of ranchers, federal and state agencies, and environmental groups. Dennis is truly a ‘bridge builder’ and I salute his efforts. He has shown that good management of the land is beneficial to livestock and wildlife. He is a real gentleman and his efforts deserve recognition for his ability to work with diverse groups of people and with individuals.”
            Steve Dams, chairman of the Wyoming State Grazing Board: “Dennis and the Sun family ranch are Wyoming’s best example of how to successfully combine economic and resource stewardship goals into a program that works for all ownerships and multiple uses of the land. They Wyoming Grazing Board is proud to be associated with Dennis. He and his family exemplify both the tradition and future of Wyoming as a leader in business and conservation management of our lands.”
            George Jones, program coordinator/ecologist of the Nature Conservancy: “I firmly believe that Dennis Sun and people like him will help us all avoid or solve resource management problems, for the good of our resources and of Wyoming’s residents.”
            Jim Debree, director of UW Cooperative Extension Service: “In my estimation, Dennis is an unsung hero. During the past two to three years, the management of our natural resources has received considerable public attention. Prior to this fanfare, Dennis quietly organized an outstanding Coordinated Resource Management program for his livestock operation. The Sun Ranch is now a model used statewide to create interest in natural resource management. It is also receiving attention in the western region among land management agencies as an example of viable multiple use practices.”
            Donn Kesselheim, director of education for the Wyoming Outdoor Council: “Dennis and his family have made very solid progress in improving the condition of rangeland and riparian areas to the benefit of both domestic livestock and wildlife. He has also developed a very good working relationship with the state and federal agencies who share responsibility with the Sun family for the care of the land he is using. HE is an excellent role model for he agriculture community in Wyoming.”
            John Dolan, president of the Wyoming Fly Casters: “Our club has first-hand knowledge of Mr. Dennis Sun and his entire family’s dedication to improving range and riparian habitat. The Fly Casters have worked hand-in-hand with eh Suns on several improvement projects on the Cherry Creek drainage during the past several years. We hope this alliance will continue in the years to come.”
            Karen Budd, attorney for Budd/Falen and Associates: “Dennis has exhibited a true environmental ethic by encouraging and supporting the proper use of livestock, wildlife and other natural resources on his family ranch properties. He has demonstrated outstanding leadership by encouraging the wise us and care of land so that both current productivity as well as future protection of the land are maintained. Additionally, through Dennis’ leadership, the Sun Ranch can be used as a model to demonstrate that cattle can be used as an effective tool to enhance land conditions, riparian areas and wildlife habitat.”
            Ray Brubaker, state director for Bureau of Land Management: “We are very appreciative of the increased awareness and cooperation Dennis has helped us gain by his support for our efforts. Dennis’ support and encouragement of others to cooperate with us may prove to be the most important benefit to the BLM in the long term. Dennis has devoted untold hours traveling and talking, to anyone who wants to listen, about what he is doing, why he elected to adopt the CRM process for his operation ad what benefits he has accrued. He also stresses that not every operation fits into this style of management and that other approaches may be just as successful.”
            Art Reese, chief of Habitat and Technical Service, Wyoming Game and Fish Department: “Dennis has demonstrated outstanding team-building and team work to manage the total resource on the Sun Ranch and associated public lands. He has used coordinated Resource Management to apply a holistic approach to the management of soils, water, vegetation, wildlife, and livestock to benefit all affected interest groups.”
            Wally Ramsbottom, rancher, Buffalo: “Dennis Sun has exhibited a true environmental ethic. Many range improvements have been made and cattle have been used as a tool to change range conditions and riparian areas. Close examination will reveal a Wyoming rancher with a heritage extending back to territorial days. Dennis, along with his fore bearers, has practiced excellent natural resource management.”