King Ranch Receives 2015 Leopold Conservation Award
The century-old King Ranch sits just outside of Cheyenne. After the passing of one of the ranch owners, the ranch management was left in the hands of Mark Eisele, who has worked on the ranch since the 1970s. Today, Mark, along with his wife Trudy and their family, proudly carry on the ranching tradition at King Ranch.
The Eiseles run three herds of primarily red and black Angus, and manage a portion of the land as alfalfa and native grass hay fields.
Dedicated to business and environmental sustainability, the Eiseles converted to low-pressure pivot irrigation, which reduced water costs by 60% and consumption by 25%. The Eiseles use solar and electric submersible pumps in their windmills to reduce, and in some cases eliminate, their need to haul water around the ranch.
The ranch partially depends on grazing access near the Medicine Bow National Forest, a popular destination for tourists. Its close proximity to an urban area makes King Ranch rather unique compared to more rural ranches. As a result, the Eiseles must balance the park’s and city’s needs, as well as their own.
The Eiseles work closely with the US Forest Service so recreation and ranching in and near the park can co-exist. Mark constructed gates and fences along trails so bicyclists can enjoy riding through the idyllic pastures. The ranch also includes land designated as suitable habitat for two threatened species – the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse and the Colorado butterfly plant. To help improve their habitat, ranch management practices are regularly reviewed with wildlife in mind.
Mark’s commitment to conservation is exemplified by his willingness to host research projects and students on the ranch. He recently volunteered a portion of his land for a trial experiment to use sludge from a water treatment plant as a soil amendment, and he enjoys educating children about the value of ranching and conservation.
“Mark is one of the most progressive ranchers in the state and region, always having a creative eye on the future but with his feet dependably planted on the ground of the present,” said Tom Farrell, Laramie County Conservation District. “ His love and care for the land is always foremost in the decisions he makes.”
Sand County Foundation is a non-profit conservation group dedicated to working with private landowners to improve habitat on their land. Sand County’s mission is to advance the use of ethical and scientifically sound land management practices and partnerships for the benefit of people and their rural landscapes. Sand County Foundation works with private landowners because the majority of the nation’s fish, wildlife, and natural resources are found on private lands. The organization backs local champions, invests in civil society and places incentives before regulation to create solutions that ensure and grow. The organization encourages the exercise of private responsibility in the pursuit of improved land health as an essential alternative to many of the commonly used strategies in modern conservation.
The Wyoming Stock Growers Association was organized on April 4, 1872 to advance and protect the interest of the state livestock producers. It was the second state cattlemen’s organization created in the United States, and was the first association formed in the Wyoming territory.
Wyoming Stock Growers Association’s mission is to serve that industry by protecting its economic, legislative, regulatory, judicial, environmental, customs and cultural interests. It is the only organization in the state focused entirely on serving the needs of the cattle industry, which is the largest segment of Wyoming’s agricultural production. The association lobbies and tracks issues at both the state and national levels; working closely with the state and federal agencies that write regulations affecting the industry.
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