Curtis man recognized for contributions to rangeland management
Scott Stout of Curtis, Neb., was recently awarded the 2016 Nebraska Section, Society for Range Management (SRM), Rangeman’s Award. This award recognizes ranchers for their outstanding success in management and improvement of Nebraska rangeland resources.
Scott and his wife, Morgan, ranch in southeast Lincoln County for their family owned operation, N-N Ranch Inc. Jeff Nichols, president of the Nebraska Section of SRM and Bob Broweleit, Awards Committee Chairman, presented the award to Scott during the Section’s annual banquet which was held in Gothenburg.
During the last 20 years, eastern red cedar encroachment on their ranch had become an increasingly serious problem. Cedar encroachment produced negative economic impacts in terms of carrying capacity and added expenses for herd management and health. Wildlife populations shifted and were on a negative trend. Scott and his father-in-law, Gary Nelson, recognized the threat of this problem to their long term livelihood, and chose to do something about it.
They conducted their first prescribed burn to control cedars on their ranch in 2008. Since that time, Stout has become a leader in the prescribed burning effort not only in the Loess Canyon portions of Lincoln County but also throughout Nebraska. For eight years, he has served as the “burn boss” for the Loess Canyon Rangeland Alliance (LCRA), a grass roots association of local land owners who help each other conduct prescribed burns on their properties. In addition to the “burn boss”, Scott has served in many other capacities for the LCRA organization over the years.
Since 2008, Stout has provided leadership in burn unit layout, line preparation and conducting over 60 prescribed burns covering approximately fifty thousand acres in the loess canyons of SE Lincoln County. His leadership and willingness to take on the challenge of conducting these prescribed burns provided the confidence for other landowners to implement the practice. Many landowners rely on Scott’s expertise and experience with prescribed fire, which he readily offers to reclaim grazinglands which have become dominated by cedars.
Federal and state agencies and other non-governmental organizations involved in natural resource management across the state recognize Stout for his knowledge and skills with prescribed burning. He is a reliable resource to these organizations in the transfer of knowledge and promotion of prescribed burning as a viable cedar control practice. Scott has provided “on the ground” guidance and training to countless individuals. He has served as a mentor to other aspiring burn boss’ and is bringing up the next generation of prescribed fire practitioners.
Stout is one of the founding members of the Nebraska Prescribed Fire Council, which serves as an umbrella organization for the various prescribed burn associations and other entities that promote the safe and effective use of prescribed fire as a tool. He is currently the president of this organization.
Scott and Morgan have recently started their own business, Prescribed Fire Planning of Nebraska LLC, where they contract with landowners to assist them in process of planning prescribed burns on their property. Scott is the first certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) for planning prescribed burns according to national NRCS planning criteria in Nebraska.
Eastern red cedar encroachment has become one of the greatest threats to the rangeland resources in Nebraska and it is imperative to utilize prescribed fire to control its spread. Scott Stout has been a pioneer in implementing this practice to shape the landscape. Through his determination and wise implementation, he has made great strides in increasing the acceptance of the practice and developing a “fire culture” throughout Nebraska and surrounding states. He has, and continues to create a lasting legacy for the health and improvement of the range land resources of Nebraska.
— Courtesy of the Nebraska Section, Society for Range Management