Conserving resources: It must be in their blood
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Conservation be in their blood, because the families honored as this year’s Colorado Association of Soil Conservation District’s Conservationists of the Year for Ranching and Farming have been conserving Colorado’s natural resources for more than 100 years each.
Each year, the Association bestows the titles of Conservationist of the Year for Farming and Conservationist of the Year for Ranching upon two families. This honor is awarded only after having exemplified outstanding efforts and achievements in conservation on agricultural lands. This year Colorado’s State Association and its 77 Soil Conservation Districts and some 300 NRCS employees and many other natural resource organizations honored the Godsey family as the Farming Conservationist of the Year and the Coleman family as the Ranching Conservationist of the Year.
The Godsey family’s agricultural legacy began in 1887 when Winfield Godsey first came to Colorado with his wife Gertrude. After years of hard work and an initial homestead of 160 acres, Don Godsey now runs that same 160 acres his great-grandfather owned and 4,000 additional acres the family has acquired over the years. Their family farm is located near Wray, Colo., in Yuma County.
Today, the primary crops grown on the Godsey farm are dry edible beans, corn, wheat, and feed crop. The Godseys also run a cow-calf operation and background the calves produced on the farm. They built up their cattle operation to include more than 450 pairs of commercial limousine, charolais, and simmental cross.
The family is also passionate about trees. Over the years, they have also planted thousands of trees for windbreaks, and shelter. “As we look around our farm and view the windbreaks, we do not regret all the time and effort we have spent getting them started.” said Don’s wife, Debbie. “We are sure that many generations to come will enjoy our efforts and continue to add new conservation practices.”
A portion of the Godsey land is enrolled in NRCS’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which allows the family to retire some of their most highly erodible land from production and protect that land with vegetative cover.
Some of the conservation practices the family uses include crop residue use, ridge tillage, low pressure irrigation, grass seeding, livestock pipelines and tanks, fencing and windbreaks.
The Coleman family’s legacy of conservation also began in the 1800s. The family arrived in Colorado in 1871 and within the next 10 years, Elizabeth and James tried their hand at ranching and found their true passion.
Today, with support from his wife, Jim Coleman follows in his great-grandfather’s, his grandfather’s and his father’s steps running the family’s 11,000-acre ranch with his son, Tim.
“It’s a pleasure to work with true land stewards and those whose life’s work is emerged in not only proven conservation practices but also new techniques of conservation,” says Tracy Miller, NRCS district conservationist in Center, Colo.
Jim and Tim run more than 1,200 mother limousin Angus cattle. Their works have afforded them relationships with many natural resource partners including the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, their local Soil Conservation District and NRCS field office staff. “In addition to running cattle on their land, the family possesses public land permits on more than 102,000 acres,” Miller said.
Pasture and hayland management is the main objective for the Colemans. To help facilitate their goals, they have installed more than 40,000 feet of cross fence on their private and public land to better distribute the cattle and follows their planned grazing system. They have installed more than 27 irrigation structures including some 4,800 feet of pipelines, as well as spring developments, and water storage tanks on their public land.
The works of the Godsey and the Coleman families demonstrate their commitment as caretakers of the land in a fashion for which an “ideal land stewardship model” could be made.