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Colorado ranch honored with National Environmental Stewardship Award

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Award recognizes the outstanding stewardship practices and conservation achievements.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) announced that Beatty Canyon Ranch in Kim, Colo., is the national winner of the 2020 Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP). The award, which annually recognizes the outstanding stewardship practices and conservation achievements of cattle producers, was presented on Aug. 10, during the 2021 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Nashville, Tenn.

Owned and operated by Steve and Joy Wooten and Brady and Arin Burnham, Beatty Canyon Ranch (BCR) manages 125,000 acres and has the fourth, fifth and sixth generations of land stewards involved in day-to-day operations. The ranch is a family and faith-based business with its focus on land, livestock, recreation and community.

“Judicious management of our natural resources has sustained the ranch through hardships across generations,” said Steve Wooten. “We are so honored to be recognized for our family’s efforts to preserve the environment, support communities and share our quality of life with others.”

Controlling invasive species, grazing management and improving wildlife habitat are just a few of the reasons BCR was selected as the National ESAP winner. A pressing issue ranch owners and employees have focused on is repairing the river systems that run through their property.

The Purgatoire River and Chacuaco drainage, both of which have been severely damaged by the invasive plant species tamarisk, span several miles of the land. BCR’s efforts to remove the tamarisk have resulted in more vegetative cover in the wetland zones and a new flourishing population of willows, which now stabilize the stream banks. Tamarisk leaves increase the salinity of soil and water, so its removal also improves water quality.

The current plethora of wildlife that occupy the ranch and its surrounding area have also taken root due to generations of land managers that prioritize the symbiotic relationship between ranching and wildlife management. In 2002, Steve Wooten’s grandmother, in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Wildlife, transferred 17 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep onto the ranch. Today, this herd is the largest population in Colorado, reaching more than 500 head within the canyon structure. This herd provides sheep to be relocated to grow bighorn populations in areas of need.

“Cattlemen and women across the country are dedicated to preserving natural resources,” said NCBA President Jerry Bohn. “Beatty Canyon Ranch exemplifies these conservation efforts and is a stewardship role model for producers everywhere.”

Established in 1991, ESAP identifies outstanding land stewards in the cattle industry. Each year, seven families are recognized with regional Environmental Stewardship awards, with one being honored as the national winner. BCR was selected as the national winner from the following 2020 regional winners:

Region I - SK Herefords, New York

Region II - Southern Cross Farm, Mississippi

Region III - Euken-Myers Family, Iowa

Region IV - Double C Cattle Company, Oklahoma

Region V - Beatty Canyon Ranch, Colorado

Region VI - Boies Ranch, Nevada

Region VII - Johnson Farms, South Dakota

Previous National ESAP honorees include:

2019 - Blackbeard’s Ranch, Florida

2018 - Thunder View Farms, New York

2017 - Jim O’Haco Cattle Company, Arizona

2016 - Black Leg Ranch, North Dakota

2015 - Maggie Creek Ranch, Nevada

ESAP is generously sponsored by companies and federal agencies who share the cattle industry’s commitment to caring for the environment and protecting natural resources. Sponsors including Corteva Agriscience, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, McDonald’s, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partner with NCBA in an effort to promote environmental stewardship throughout the beef supply chain.

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