Statement by 2005 Regional ESAP Selection Committee

“The members of the 2005 National Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) Selection Committee are extremely proud to announce this year’s seven regional award winners, hailing from diverse family cattle operations from across the United States.

“These families are being nationally recognized for leading exemplary, long-term stewardship practices on their land. The winners of this award are actively working to protect and improve the environment because they know environmental stewardship and good business go hand-in-hand. These leaders understand that good land management demands they care for the environment for their own welfare, as well as for future generations.” 

“We are also proud to announce that 2005 marks the 15th anniversary of this premier environmental award program. These winners will continue to serve as role models for fellow cattle producers for years to come.

“A big thank you goes out to Dow AgroSciences, LLC and the Natural Resource Conservation Service for sponsoring this valuable program, which fosters environmental creativity, innovation and perseverance nationwide among today’s cattle-producing families.

“The 2005 Regional ESAP Winners are:

-Region I: Li’l Ponderosa Enterprises in Carlisle, Pennsylvania
 Nominated by PennsylvaniaCattlemen’s Association

-Region II: Lightsey Cattle Company in LakeWales, Florida
  FloridaCattlemen’s Association

-Region III: Faris Farms in Mount Ayr, Iowa
 Nominated by IowaCattlemen’s Association

-Region IV: Richards Ranch in Jacksboro, Texas
 Nominated by the Texasand Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association

-Region V: Simms Cattle Company LLC in McFadden, Wyoming
 Nominated by WyomingStock Growers Association

-Region VI: Prather Ranch in Fall RiverMills, California
 Nominated by CaliforniaCattlemen’s Association

-Region VII: Gates Angus Ranch in Coldwater, Kansas
 Nominated by KansasLivestock Association

“Picking these winners out of the impressive pool of applicants proved to be a tough task, but we are very excited about this year’s winners. Once again, the group represents diverse geographical areas across the country and many generations of families.

“This program has come a very long way since its establishment in 1991 by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.  The program provides yearly public showcases of the stewardship and business practices that exist together on progressive farms and ranches.  It gives us the chance to nationally acknowledge producers like these, who go the extra mile when it comes to preserving and enhancing the resources on their land. 

“While the program highlights industry stewardship, it also provides cattlemen with examples and ideas that may be useful on their own farms and ranching operations for years to come.”

Pennsylvania Farm Wins Top Environmental Award
Li’l Ponderosa Enterprises is ESAP Region I Winner

Robert and Kate Boyce of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, have been selected as regional winners of the 2005 Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP). Their farm, Li’l Ponderosa, is one of seven regional winners nationwide. The prestigious program is in its 15th year and is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences L.L.C. and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

 The annual award program, administered by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), recognizes cattle producers across the nation, whose stewardship practices are innovative, cost-effective and contribute to environmental conservation. The Boyce’s are the sole representative of NCBA’s Region I, which includes 17 mid-Atlantic and northeastern states. They were nominated for the award by the Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association.

“This award program acknowledges cattle producers who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to preserve natural resources,” explains Stacey Katseanes, coordinator of the program. “People who devote their lives to working the land embody the true meaning of environmentalists, and for this Pennsylvania family, conservation is a lifetime commitment that has greatly rewarded them. Li’l Ponderosa Enterprises demonstrates how today’s cattlemen utilize creative technologies and innovations to operate a profitable and environmentally-friendly business.”

Li’l Ponderosa Enterprises is three business entities operating out of one address and includes Angus cattle, thoroughbred horses and a combination of several distributorships for products directly related to Grazing Solutions. Li’l Ponderosa Angus, a purebred cow/calf operation founded on the principle focus of breeding livestock with grass genetics, is the primary focus of the Boyce’s with approximately 90 head being currently grazed on the farm.

Since the purchase of the farm 18 years ago, the Boyce’s have been dedicated to the implementation of effective conservation practices to increase the quality and production levels of their land. These practices include: rotational grazing, brush management, stream bank fencing, stream crossings, dry manure storage facility and a pond constructed for irrigation and stock-watering that also serves as a wildlife habitat. As a result of these practices, they have been able to produce high-quality, high-quantity forage and a clean watering system. The Boyce’s have also seen increased wildlife populations since purchasing their farm.

“The physical nature of the Li’l Ponderosa Enterprises is surpassed only by the enthusiastic, helpful attitude of the Boyces,” says Dr. Lowell Wilson, administrative secretary of the Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association. “We are assured that the operation will not only continue, but will improve and contribute even more to our industry.”

The Boyce’s work diligently with NRCS and the Farm Service Agency to protect and improve the land and religiously follow an NRCS-approved farm plan developed in 1987.  They also participate in the Environmental Quality Incentives Programs, which is administered by NRCS. Li’l Ponderosa Enterprises has received other awards for their efforts such as the 2001 Pennsylvania Forage and Grassland Council’s Conservation Farmer Award and the Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association’s Environmental Stewardship Award in 2003.

“Li’l Ponderosa is a leader in their community and in the industry, combining sound cattle management and environmental practices,” says Katseanes.

 “We want to live and work in lockstep with God and Mother Nature,” says Robert. “We wish to preserve the traditional values that made America great. We believe that God will provide, but we know he expects us to bring a shovel.”

Li’l Ponderosa Enterprises will be formally recognized as a regional ESAP winner at the 2005 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver, Colorado, on July 28th. One of the seven regional winners will be selected as the national winner and announced in February 2006 at NCBA’s Annual Convention, also in Denver. For additional information on the family or other regional winners, contact NCBA’s Washington, D.C., office at 202-347-0228.

Florida Ranch Wins Top Environmental Award
Lightsey Cattle Company is ESAP Region II Winner

The Lightsey family of Lake Wales, Florida, has been selected as regional winners of the 2005 Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP). Their ranch, Lightsey Cattle Company, is one of seven regional winners nationwide. The prestigious program is in its 15th year and is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences L.L.C. and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

 The annual award program, administered by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), recognizes cattle producers across the nation whose stewardship practices are innovative, cost-effective and contribute to environmental conservation. The Lightsey’s are the sole representative of NCBA’s Region II, which consists of eight southern states, including Florida and Alabama. They were nominated for the award by the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.

 “This award program acknowledges cattlemen who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to preserve natural resources,” explains Stacey Katseanes, coordinator of the program. “People who devote their lives to working the land embody the true meaning of environmentalists, and for this Florida family, conservation is a lifetime commitment that has greatly rewarded them. Lightsey Cattle Company demonstrates how today’s cattlemen utilize creative technologies and innovations to operate a profitable and environmentally-friendly business.”

Lightsey Cattle Company is a diverse business with three separately located ranches, whose daily operations include a cow/calf operation, preconditioning feedlot, guided hunting, citrus groves, the cutting of timber, sod and seed and ecological tours of the ranches. Lightsey Cattle Company’s biggest source of income is the cattle operation, which consists of 3,900 head of Brahman cross females.  The total acreage of the three ranches consists of 11,400 privately owned and 18,000 leased acres.

The land has been with the family since the mid 1800s and is kept 60 percent improved grasses and 40 percent native. The Lightsey family has been devoted in their efforts to continue the family tradition of preserving the land so future generations can continue their family business. Some of the conservation systems implemented are rotational grazing, harvesting overgrown timber, guided hunting to control wildlife populations, deep ditch water systems, controlled pasture burning and most notably, helping to protect and restore 28 endangered species that inhabit their ranches, including the bald eagle.

“The Lightseys conduct their lives and manage their ranching operations according to a simple yet profound ethic:  the right thing for the land is the right thing for business, humanity, and all creatures and creation,” states James A. Murrian, Director of Conservation and Stewardship of The Nature Conservancy. “The Lightseys are unquestionably leaders in the area of maintaining the ranching culture while looking for innovative ways to ensure ranches remain economically viable and environmentally sustainable.”

The Lightsey family has a long list of environmental agencies and organizations who they have worked with on the environmental stewardship projects incorporated on their ranches. The list includes the NRCS, Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Florida Division of Forestry, University of Florida Extension Service, The Nature Conservancy and Green Horizon. Lightsey Cattle Company hosts environmental groups on ranch and ecological tours and the family is actively involved with area conservation organizations, the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and Florida CattleWomen’s Inc.

“The long-standing commitment of the Lightsey family to preserve and protect their land has allowed the ranches to increase productivity while protecting the environment,” says Katseanas, “For example, the family has agreed to several conservation easements on parts of two of their ranches, which really proves their long term commitment.”

“Lightsey Cattle Company is held in the highest regard by the conservation communities in the state of Florida. The family’s actions to work with state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations to help conserve their land for future generations are exemplary,” says Hilary Swain, Executive Director of Archbold Biological Station.

“Stewardship has to do with how we manage our time, talent, resources…our entire lives. It is a beautiful concept when understood. We are blessed by having the task of caring for all that we possess in our lives, such as our land, livestock, wildlife, water, air and our earth,” says Cary Lightsey. “We want to share our goals and to insure that the future members of our family will have a livelihood much like the one we had…to work our land, the cattle and wildlife and all that goes along with it. “

Lightsey Cattle Company will be formally recognized as a regional ESAP winner at the 2005 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver, Colorado, on July 28th. One of the seven regional winners will be selected as the national winner and announced in February 2006 at NCBA’s Annual Convention, also in Denver. For additional information on the family or other regional winners, contact NCBA’s Washington, D.C., office at 202-347-0228.

Iowa Farm Wins Top Environmental Award
Faris Farms is ESAP Region III Winner

The Lee Faris family of Mount Ayr, Iowa, has been selected as regional winners of the 2005 Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP). Their farm is one of seven regional winners nationwide. The prestigious program is in its 15th year and is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences L.L.C. and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The annual award program, administered by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), recognizes cattle producers across the nation whose stewardship practices are innovative, cost-effective, and contribute to environmental conservation. The Faris family is the sole representative of NCBA’s Region III, which includes five Midwestern states. They were nominated for the award by the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

“This award program acknowledges cattlemen who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to preserve natural resources,” explains Stacey Katseanes, coordinator of the program. “People who devote their lives to working the land embody the true meaning of environmentalists, and for this Iowa family, conservation is a lifetime commitment that has greatly rewarded them. Faris Farms demonstrates how today’s cattlemen utilize creative technologies and innovations to operate a profitable and environmentally-friendly business.”

Faris Farms, located in the rolling hills of south-central Iowa, is a commercial cow-calf and back-grounding operation with crops grown that include corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa hay. Cattle provide the major income source, with approximately 190 head. Lee and Martha Faris started Faris Farms in 1958 when they purchased 80 acres soon after their marriage. They purchased more land in the 1970s and acquired Mr. Faris’s great grandfather’s land that was originally bought in 1903. Their two sons help out with day-to-day affairs of the farm.

“Mr. Faris is an advocate for environmental stewardship and uses conservation practices such as rotational grazing, terraces, stream bank stabilization, minimum tillage, contour farming and re-establishing wildlife habitat,” says Katseanes.

The Faris cowherd is made up of Angus-Simmental-Charolais crosses and is easily maintained with an abundance of forages and feedstuffs during years of normal rainfall due to Lee’s sound conservation management practices. Faris Farms can support a larger cow herd as a result of these management practices and improvements such as inter-seeded pastures and well-managed grazing and water systems. “The excellent forage base, combined with improved cattle genetics, has increased calf weaning weights 180 to 200 pounds in the last 20 years of steady improvements,” says Mr. Faris.

The family has also worked to provide habitat for wildlife by providing a barn to rear baby barn owls for release.  Because of excellent care for their pastures, prairie chickens are also being re-established to their native range.

“Lee believes in environmental stewardship and understands the importance of the resources to the people and agriculture of the country,” says James Gillespie, Field Services Bureau Chief of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. “In his family farming operation, he does all he can to protect the environment by proper land use measures. He lives the life, walks the walk and demonstrates a strong environmental ethic. He is leaving his stewardship mark on the earth.”

The Faris family has utilized research, information and education opportunities from many institutions and organizations. The list includes Iowa Forage and Grassland Council, Iowa State University Extension Service, the NRCS, Iowa Grassland Alliance and Committees of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Mr. Faris is a member and has served as president of the Ringgold County Cattlemen’s Association and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. He has also been a Ringgold County Soil and Water Conservation District commissioner for 16 years in addition to volunteering as a 4-H leader in his community.

“Good environmental stewardship has a snowball effect,” explains Faris. “It’s the right thing to do to protect your land and keep it in the condition it was intended for.”

Faris Farms will be formally recognized as a regional ESAP winner at the 2005 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver, Colorado, on July 28th. One of the seven regional winners will be selected as the national winner and announced in February 2006 at NCBA’s Annual Convention, also in Denver. For additional information on the family or other regional winners, contact NCBA’s Washington, D.C., office at 202-347-0228.

Texas Ranch Wins Top Environmental Award
Richards Ranch is ESAP Region IV Winner

Richards Ranch of Jacksboro, Texas, has been selected as a regional winner of the 2005 Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP). The ranch is one of seven regional winners nationwide. The prestigious program is in its 15th year and is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences L.L.C. and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The annual award program, administered by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), recognizes cattle producers across the nation whose stewardship practices are innovative, cost-effective and contribute to environmental conservation. The Richards Ranch is the sole representative of NCBA’s Region IV, which includes Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas. The ranch was nominated by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

“This award program acknowledges cattle producers who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to preserve natural resources,” explains Stacey Katseanes, coordinator of the program. “People who devote their lives to working the land embody the true meaning of environmentalists, and for this Texas family, conservation is a lifetime commitment that has greatly rewarded them. Richards Ranch demonstrates how today’s cattlemen utilize creative technologies and innovations to operate a profitable and environmentally-friendly business.”

The 139-year-old north Texas ranch is found in Jack County and encompasses 15,000 privately-owned acres. Richards Ranch runs approximately 950 head of cattle and is primarily a cow/calf operation with additional income from stocker cattle and retained ownership of feeder calves. Other ranch activities include hunting, fishing, a lodge/retreat facility and nature tourism activities.

“Conservation efforts are vital to the success of Richards Ranch,” explains Katseanes. “These management practices include intensive rotational grazing, brush control, proper stocking rate, management during drought and prescribed pasture burning.”

“John Hackley, manager of Richards Ranch, has a strong conservation ethic, he has a genuine love of the land, and he is very proactive,” says Wayne Hanselka, professor and extension program leader for Rangeland Ecology and Management of the Texas Cooperative Extension Service. “He believes that the ranch business needs optimum management with a strong resource base to be successful. The Richards Ranch is a testimony to his land stewardship.”

The Richards family has spent extensive hours on environmental stewardship research and attendance at seminars, workshops and field days. Sources of information that the Richards Ranch have utilized include the NRCS, Alan Savory and Holistic Resource Management, Stan Parsons Ranching for Profit and the Texas A&M University System. The ranch has hosted countless range and pasture judging contests, and due to the family’s continuous efforts, Richards Ranch was presented the Outstanding Rangeland Management Award by the Texas Section, Society for Range Management in 2004.

After more than two decades of the planned rotational grazing, grasses are much denser and rainfall is used much more effectively by the land. Stock numbers have also been increased, and the ranch is planning to increase herd size to 1,200 head. Wildlife populations such as deer and turkey have increased, and quail remain on the ranch while populations are declining in other parts of the state.

“John Hackley and Henry Richards just don’t believe you can have good livestock habitat if it isn’t also good wildlife habitat,” says Katseanes.

“We want to be able to enjoy our heritage of ranching, its way of life and to live off the land; to be able to sustain this heritage for future generations of our family and to be able to leave the land better than we received it,” says Mr. Hackley. “Management not only makes a difference, but it makes the difference when you are ranching for sustainability for the future.”

The Richards Ranch mission statement is:  “To preserve our land base by improving the ecosystem so that we can contribute to the welfare, happiness and economic levels of the family, employees and industries identified with ranching, the local community and the world at large.”

Richards Ranch will be formally recognized as a regional ESAP winner at the 2005 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver, Colorado, on July 28th. One of the seven regional winners will be selected as the national winner and announced in February 2006 at NCBA’s Annual Convention, also in Denver. For additional information on the family or other regional winners, contact NCBA’s Washington, D.C., office at 202-347-0228.

Wyoming Ranch Wins Top Environmental Award
Sims Cattle Company is ESAP Region V Winner

The Sims family of McFadden, Wyoming, has been selected as regional winners of the 2005 Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP). Their ranch, Sims Cattle Company, is one of seven regional winners nationwide. The prestigious program is in its 15th year and is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences L.L.C. and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The annual award program, administered by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), recognizes cattle producers across the nation whose stewardship practices are innovative, cost-effective and contribute to environmental conservation. The Sims family is the sole representative of NCBA’s Region V, which includes six rocky mountain and northwestern states. Don Sims and his two sons, Scott and Olin, have established a partnership which makes up Sims Cattle Company, LLC. They were nominated by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.

“This award program acknowledges cattle producers who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to preserve natural resources,” explains Stacey Katseanes, coordinator of the program. “People who devote their lives to working the land embody the true meaning of environmentalists, and for this Wyoming family, conservation is a lifetime commitment that has greatly rewarded them. Sims Cattle Company demonstrates how today’s cattlemen utilize creative technologies and innovations to operate a profitable and environmentally-friendly business.”

The ranch is located in the Rock Creek Valley, in Carbon and Albany counties and is approximately 45 miles northwest of Laramie. The terrain includes rolling hills and some flat land, growing mostly cool season grasses. Most of the operation’s income is derived from the cattle herd, which consists of 700 Gelbvieh/Angus cross cows.  The ranch also sells 600-800 tons of hay each year. Sims Cattle Company implements sound environmental stewardship practices such as intensive rotational grazing, weed control, fertilizer application, inter-seeding, introducing new varieties of grasses, windrowed hay management and parasite control.

“One of the best aspects of Sims Cattle Company is the willingness to share. This family has shared with other producers and agencies, their successes, failures and strategies,” says Brett Moline, University Extension Educator of the Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service. “Perhaps the best way to evaluate Sims Cattle Company’s stewardship is to look across the fence. This shows better grass, fewer weeds, improved wildlife habitat and livestock in excellent shape. This ranch family is an inspiration for future generations to continue improving ranching with environmental issues at hand.”

Since taking a holistic approach to their ranching operation, Sims Cattle Company has worked to meet their conservation goals with various government entities, such as the NRCS, the Bureau of Land Management, University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wyoming Fish and Game Department. The Sims have hosted numerous field days on the ranch to observe various practices and experiments done on the ranch. Sims Cattle Company was the recipient of an award from the National Endowment for Soil and Water Conservation for water and soil conservation in Wyoming and was also awarded the “Excellence in Grazing Award” from the Society of Range Management.

“Through winning such awards, the Sims family is giving the ranching industry a better image with the general public and demonstrating the rancher’s role in protecting the environment,” says Katseanes. “Sims Cattle Company has been able to accomplish their landscape goal of developing healthy complex soils with minimal erosion, a great complexity of grass communities and live running streams and springs of clean water through sound natural resources management.” 

A better environment is therefore being provided for the wildlife, and with such grazing management, the number of undesirable range plants has decreased.

“We have found that by having solid monitoring data, a basic understanding of protecting the ecosystem functions and the tools to make changes, we can talk to anyone about how ranchers using proper management can have a positive affect on the health of the land, water, and the wildlife that live there,” says Don Sims.

Sims Cattle Company, LLC will be formally recognized as a regional ESAP winner at the 2005 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver, Colorado, on July 28th. One of the seven regional winners will be selected as the national winner and announced in February 2006 at NCBA’s Annual Convention, also in Denver. For additional information on the family or other regional winners, contact NCBA’s Washington, D.C., office at 202-347-0228.

California Ranch Wins Top Environmental Award
Prather Ranch is ESAP Region VI Winner

The Walter W. Ralphs and Jim & Mary Rickert families of Fall River Mills, California, have been selected as regional winners of the 2005 Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP). Their farm, Prather Ranch, is one of seven regional winners nationwide. The prestigious program is in its 15th year and is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences L.L.C. and the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS).

The annual award program, administered by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), recognizes cattle producers across the nation whose stewardship practices are innovative, cost-effective and contribute to environmental conservation. Prather Ranch is the sole representative of NCBA’s Region VI, which includes five southwestern states and Hawaii. They were nominated by the California Cattlemen’s Association.

“This award program acknowledges cattle producers who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to preserve natural resources,” explains Stacey Katseanes, coordinator of the program. “People who devote their lives to working the land embody the true meaning of environmentalist, and for these California families, conservation is a lifetime commitment that has greatly rewarded them. Prather Ranch demonstrates how today’s cattlemen utilize creative technologies and innovations to operate a profitable and environmentally-friendly business.”

The Prather Ranch is diverse cattle and farming operation, including cow/calf, feeder, feedyard, slaughter facility and retail meat outlets. The cattle herd consists of approximately 4,000 head, being grazed on 28,555 acres of deeded and leased land in Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama, Glenn and Colusa counties of northern California. Being environmentally-friendly is a large part of the philosophy of Prather Ranch, and they have incorporated conservation practices such as rotational grazing, creating wildlife habitat, limited access cattle watering ramps, manure handling and a hydroelectric plant.

 “The Prather Ranch is a tremendously unique, vertically integrated beef cattle operation in northern California which has shown a deep commitment to balancing environmental stewardship with economic sustainability,” says Ben Higgins, Executive Vice President of the California Cattlemen’s Association. “Our organization is extremely proud of the impressive accomplishments of the Prather Ranch in the fields of environmental protection, holistic management, wildlife management, specialized production and marketing and animal welfare.”

The Prather Ranch has continuously worked with agencies and organizations such as the NRCS, California Division of Forestry, California Department of Fish and Game, United States Department of Fish and Wildlife Services, Sacramento River Watershed Program and the California Rangeland trust, just to name a few. The ranch also works with colleges and universities to help educate young people about progressive animal husbandry techniques. They host tours for organizations including the Hereford Association, California Cattlemen’s Association, Oregon State University and many high school FFA departments and 4-H clubs. They have been previously recognized with prestigious awards such as the 2004 Governor's Environment and Economic Leadership Award (California) and the Beef Improvement Federation 2005 Commercial Producer of the Year (national).

“The impressive story of the Prather Ranch has been featured in many local, state and national newspapers and magazines describing the operation,” says Katseanes. “They have also been covered by various national television and radio programs.”

With their holistic approach to ranching, Prather Ranch helps the environment by increasing plant diversity and productivity and sees a 20 to 30 percent return on investment from their hydroelectric plant per year. The ranch provides a clean watering system for livestock and wildlife and creates a friendly environment for wildlife populations. Prather Ranch is committed to raising beef in a sustainable manner with high environmental standards, which makes them a leader in their community and in the industry.

“My dream is to own a productive, environmentally progressive operation in northern California,” says Walter Ralphs. “It is my wish to leave a legacy of a ranching operation that is highly sustainable, provides environmental, economic and social benefits and is an innovative leader in the cattle industry.”

Prather Ranch will be formally recognized as a regional ESAP winner at the 2005 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver, Colorado, on July 28th. One of the seven regional winners will be selected as the national winner and announced in February 2006 at NCBA’s Annual Convention, also in Denver. For additional information on the family or other regional winners, contact NCBA’s Washington, D.C., office at 202-347-0228.

Kansas Ranch Wins Top Environmental Award
Gates Angus Ranch is ESAP Region VII Winner

The Chan Gates family of Coldwater, Kansas has been selected as the regional winners of the 2005 Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP). The Gates Angus Ranch is one of seven regional winners nationwide. The prestigious program is in its 15th year and is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences L.L.C. and the Natural Resources Conservation Service of USDA.

The annual award program, administered by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, recognizes cattle producers across the nation whose stewardship practices are inventive, cost-effective, and contribute to environmental conservation. Gates Angus Ranch is the sole representative of NCBA’s region VII, which includes North and South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. They were nominated by the Kansas Livestock Association.

“This environmental stewardship award program acknowledges cattlemen who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to preserve natural resources,” explains Stacey Katseanes, coordinator of the program. “People who devote their lives to working the land embody the true meaning of environmentalists and for this Kansas family, conservation is a lifetime commitment that has greatly rewarded them. Gates Angus Ranch demonstrates how today’s cattle producers utilize creative technologies and innovations to operate a profitable and environmentally-friendly business.”

Gates Angus Ranch, owned by the Gates Family Trust, operates as a cow-calf and surrogate cow herd and grazing business. Chan Gates manages the ranch along with his mother, Valerie Gates, his wife Susan and their three children: Camala, Chance and Caitlyn. The ranch was purchased in 1943 by Chan’s grandfather, Victor Gates. The Gates Angus Ranch began to diversify in 1998, when Chan became dissatisfied with the ranch’s profitability, intensive labor requirements, grass production and health of the natural resources. He therefore initiated a process to make substantial changes within the ranch utilizing techniques such as rotational grazing, later calving dates, prescribed burning, mechanical brush removal, developing water points and creating habitat for wildlife.

The main ranch consists of 4,100 acres and is situated in the heart of the Red Hills in southeast Comanche County. The Gates family leases 2,600 acres from three different landowners and recently assumed management of a newly leased 8,000 acre ranch last spring. The Gates Family Trust owns approximately 200 head of cows that calve during April and May with a custom grazing operation that includes approximately 1400 head of yearling stockers.

“Chan is conservative in his philosophy and has become very businesslike in his approach to ranching,” says Paul Rickabaugh, county extension agent for Comanche county. “His decisions are deliberate, carefully researched and focused on profitability. Even with this business-like approach, Chan has never compromised the ecological integrity of the country that he manages.”

The Gates Angus Ranch has worked with several conservation agencies and groups including the NRCS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Kansas Biological Survey, and the Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition. They also participate in the Conservation Reserve Program.  Mr. Gates has also attended many field days and workshops on the topic of conservation and even hosted a field organized by the Kansas Livestock Association and Kansas State University. The Gates Family Trust was the recipient of the Grassland Award for 2003 from the Comanche County Conservation District and the Comanche County banks. In 2004, the family was recognized by the Kansas Farm Bureau with the Seventh District Natural Resources Award.

“Since the decision to manage the ranch with great consideration to the environment, Gates Angus Ranch has seen improvements in the carrying capacity of the native rangeland, improved water quality and a large decrease in undesirable trees,” says Katseanes.

The ranch is currently working to increase the population numbers of the lesser prairie chicken and increasing habitat for northern bobwhite quail, deer and turkey.

“We need to focus on strengthening the business aspect of the ranch and have experienced firsthand the value of good stewardship of the natural resources,” says Mr. Gates. “A strong ranch business and healthy natural resources are dependent on each other for long-term sustainability.”

Gates Angus Ranch will be formally recognized as a regional ESAP winner at the 2005 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver, Colorado, on July 28th. One of the seven regional winners will be selected as the national winner and announced in February 2006 at NCBA’s Annual Convention, also in Denver. For additional information on the family or other regional winners, contact NCBA’s Washington D.C. office at 202-347-0228.

NCBA