Seven ranches across the nation were recently honored as outstanding stewards of the land in the annual Environmental Stewardship Awards Program (ESAP). In the next week, we will feature one of these ranches each day.

ESAP is in its 25th year and the 25th national winner will be selected from among these cattle producers and announced in early February 2016 at the annual convention of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in San Diego.

Most, if not all, of  the ranches named ESAP winners in the past quarter century are multi-generational and have long-standing records of operation, showing the connection between stewardship and ranch profitability.

ESAP is administered by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation and is funded by Dow AgroSciences, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Tyson Foods and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Here is a “tour” of one of those ranches and some of the traits the judges thought made it so outstanding.

Maggie Creek Ranch, Elko, Nev.

The ranch is owned by the Searle family and is managed by Jon Griggs in northern Nevada.

It comprises 198,000 acres and is a mix of deeded and public land. Annually the ranch manages 2,000 brood cows and 1,500 stocker cattle.

The judges noted several things they liked about the ranch management:

• Herding is used to reach grazing target, which is to allow every plant to reach seedhead maturity.

• Cattle share the ranch with mule deer, elk, pronghorn and the threatened Lahontan trout.

• In the early 1990s, the ranch entered a Safe Harbor Agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

• Lahontan trout habitat-restoration efforts include fish-passage-friendly irrigation structures.

• Fencing, timed grazing and strategic watering points on the creek protect sensitive riparian areas.

• The ranch built a wetland at the end of its irrigation system to ensure water leaves cleaner than it enters.

• More than 25 miles of Susie Creek will soon be ready for a new Lahontan trout release.

• With the Bureau of Land Management, the ranch has treated invasive weeds on thousands of acres.

• Riparian recovery, enhanced grass and additional water points benefit cattle and wildlife.