Wyoming farm wins top environmental award
Thaler Land & Livestock of LaGrange, Wyo. has been selected as one of seven Regional Winners in the 2006 Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP). The Annual ESAP Awards recognize ranchers who demonstrate innovative and cost-effective approaches to land stewardship on their working cattle operations.
Located in southeastern Wyoming, Thaler Land & Livestock was selected to represent the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) Region V, which includes Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. They were nominated by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.
Homesteaded in 1916, Thaler Land & Livestock has been active in area conservation efforts since its founder, Joe Matje, worked to establish the South Goshen Conservation District nearly a century ago. Today, the third and fourth generations are represented by Dennis and Sandra Thaler along with daughter and son-in-law, Brandy and Kevin Evans who together operate the 1,500 head commercial cattle ranch.
“One of the most important natural resources to Thaler Land & Livestock is the native range,” said Stacey Katseanes, coordinator of the program. “Their pioneering efforts in pasture irrigation, rotational grazing and preservation of the nearby Ogallala aquifer have become an example for area cattle producers to follow.”
The spread of noxious weeds is an increasing concern for land owners in their area of Wyoming and across the West. Among their environmental accomplishments, the Thaler family has worked in cooperation with local, state and federal agencies to minimize a leafy spurge infestation that once spread over 200 acres to less than 50 acres.
In addition, Thaler Ranch uses gated pipe irrigation, low pressure center pivot sprinklers, and flood irrigation practices to irrigate orchard grass, regar brome and alfalfa. This allows them to let the native pastures go unused until Sept. 15. This practice reduces over grazing and provides more feed for their cattle herd during the winter months. Recently they received an award from the Wyoming Chapter of Soil and Water Conservation Society for their efficient grazing system and irrigation accomplishments.
The Thalers have also managed environmental challenges that come with owning a feedlot and backgrounding operation. “With the cooperation of the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) they have designed a feedlot that ensures all runoff is contained by a dike, and eventually it is used to fertilize a nearby meadow,” says Katseanes. “A windbreak was planted to provide shelter for the cattle and serve as a buffer against soil leaching. They have an integrated nutrient management plan that outlines uses for animal waste byproducts.”
“One of our biggest conservation accomplishments has been transforming a 200 acre parcel of land that was over run with leafy spurge into the best haying ground we own, says Brandy Evans. The family collaborated with the Goshen County weed and pest supervisor and constructed a plan to eliminate the spurge. “It definitely had a positive environmental impact,” says Brandy. “Now, we use no chemicals on the ground, and we are able to put up 5 tons of hay per acre.
For more information about the Environmental Stewardship Award Program, contact NCBA’s Washington, D.C., office at (202) 347-0228.
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