West Elk Ranch honored as Rancher of the Year by the Bookcliff Conservation District | TheFencePost.com
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West Elk Ranch honored as Rancher of the Year by the Bookcliff Conservation District

Post Independent staff report Glenwood Springs, Colo.
Kelley Cox, Post IndependentScot Dodero clears the ice out of the watering hole as his uncle Louis Dodo holds the horses. With calving season beginning soon, the two make regular trips to check on the herd during the frigid weather.

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West Elk Ranch outside New Castle was recently awarded Rancher of the Year by the Bookcliff Conservation District and Colorado Association of Conservation Districts. The West Elk Ranch operation consists of 1,722 acres of private land on West Elk Creek and Silt Mesa as well as 25,000 acres of Forest Service lease located on the Flat Tops.

Ralph Dodo, father of Warren and Louis, purchased the ranch in the 1920s. Ralph worked with the Soil Conservation Service in the 1940s to seed crested wheatgrass in fields that were overgrown by sagebrush. Over the years the ranch has worked diligently to improve their operations and increase production.

In the 1980s West Elk Ranch experimented with various sagebrush control methods and shared new knowledge and experiences with the general agriculture community.

This year’s project included a new structure for water control, irrigation pipeline and sprinkler for better water management utilizing the EQIP program. They have also worked with the Division of Wildlife and Forest Service to install more than two miles of wildlife friendly fence on the high country property.

Over the years the ranch has installed 29 sprinkler systems, irrigation structures, irrigation pipelines, and stock water pipelines and tanks; engaged in irrigation water management and forage harvest management; and strived to control noxious weeds.

Over the years with the improved irrigation systems and proper management of resources West Elk has doubled hay and cattle production. Proper management of hay forage has resulted in quality feed required for winter feeding.

The Dodos have a sense of community and have served on the conservation district boards and are active in the Holy Cross Cattlemen’s Association and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and belong to Farm Bureau. Family members have time to assist with conservation tours, meetings, school activities and conservation teachers workshops.

The Bookcliff Conservation District is very pleased with the conservation ethic and resource management the West Elk Ranch exhibits.

The West Elk Ranch was recognized for its conservation work at the National Western Stock Show rodeo on Jan. 20.


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