Tavaputs Ranch serves as model for range conservation
Butch Jensen admits he didn't know much about the criteria for judging when his Tavaputs Ranch won the prestigious Utah Leopold Conservation Award last year.
All he, his family and his crew had done was combine generations worth of education and experience with a genuine love of the land.
The criteria fit hand-in-glove with ranch practices.
Range management was one of the categories, he said. It may not be immediately visible, but this is a carefully controlled environment for cattle and for wildlife. Range grasses have been cultivated to provide adequate grazing, weeds are under control, and cattle herd size is kept below the carrying capacity of the land.
To prevent overgrazing on any particular spot of the 15,000-acre spread, Jensen "manages with water." Cows don't have measurable IQs, but they do have sense to stay close to water. The ranch keeps a water pond open until it fills with silt. Then a distant hole is dredged and filled, so the cows move there.
The grass around the old hole recovers naturally.
Sustainability of the operation was another measure of success. In other words, can the ranch make it through the years despite swings in beef prices and the like? It can if the the operation is managed for wildlife preservation and big-game hunting as well as grazing. Tavaputs features guided tours for deer and elk hunters, as well as excursions across the ranch and into the prehistoric Range Creek area.
Visitors can stay in private cabins and get three squares a day at the lodge.
Is the family ready for another generation to take over? Well, Butch's son Tate has a degree in range management from USU and is into ranching.
In addition to the Leopold Award, Tavaputs also won the National Cattlemen's Association regional award for management practices. Now the ranch has moved into NCA national competition.