Riparian management and planned adaptive grazing to improve land value, livestock carrying capacity, and wildlife health.

By Kevin Alexander Watt

THE RANCH
In 2009, Robert and Maggie Taylor purchased Lonetree Ranch as part of a lifelong dream to own, operate, and steward a working ranch. Located in the Henry’s Fork River Valley in Uinta County, Wyoming, Lonetree Ranch manages almost 60,000 acres of deeded, public, and state land. The ranch straddles 1.5 miles of the Henry’s Fork River and is home to a wide range of wildlife including pronghorn, moose, elk, sage grouse, mule deer, and a growing native cutthroat trout population. The Taylors recognize that in order to ensure their ranch thrives economically, the ecosystem must be healthy.

REGENERATIVE MANAGEMENT
Today, Lonetree Ranch and its cattle business are managed principally by Robert and Maggie’s daughter, Marissa Taylor, and her husband, Zac Schofield. Described by Marissa as “meshing science and art,” the ranch’s management philosophy is to incorporate the best ideas from their neighbors, technical advisors, and land and business management schools in order to create a plan that suits their unique landscape and goals. Working closely with their local office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Taylors developed a detailed conservation plan that identified numerous opportunities to grow the productivity and resilience of the ranch. Cornerstone to their management is livestock grazing that focuses on increasing desired forage production and healthy soil. Timing grazing to prune and stimulate growing plants and provide sufficient recovery encourages healthy and deep root systems in the plants and increases soil organic matter. This grazing regime also supports healthy wildlife populations by preventing overgrazing by livestock and leaving sufficient forage in fields frequented by wildlife. The Taylors have also undertaken numerous projects to improve the health of the watershed. Across the ranch they have worked to repair aging headgates, collaborated with Trout Unlimited to restore riparian habitat, and are changing irrigation management to improve efficiency and reduce prolonged soil saturation that can cause soil compaction.

Lonetree Ranch Brand

Lonetree Ranch is an example of how tradition and innovation can work together to create regenerative success for ranch businesses, families, and ecosystems. Since 2009, the Taylor Family has worked to grow a thriving cattle business and improve the health of their land, watershed, and wildlife by seeking out and testing the most effective land and livestock management strategies they can find. From traditional herding wisdom to modern carbon farming, the Taylors work closely with the land and animals to grow the productivity and resilience of their ranch and business for generations to come.

“My goal here, one of my dreams, is to make this a sustainable cattle operation and also a sustainable lifestyle for my children and their children.”

– Robert Taylor

Lonetree Ranch Photo

 

OUTCOMES
The Taylors have begun to see many significant benefits from these regenerative practices. Their care of riparian areas and infrastructure has improved both fish habitat and the land’s economic value by increasing the recreational appeal and securing beneficial use water rights. Additionally, improvements in irrigation efficiency have allowed them to reduce water use for hay production by nearly 90% and increase yields.

The mastery of low-stress stockmanship and incorporation of non-violent herding dogs when moving their animals has significantly cut labor time on the ranch and allowed the Taylors to effectively and economically execute their adaptive grazing plan. This has jointly increased forage utilization and production, which has been critical for feeding their permanent herd of cows, increasing the size of their seasonal yearling herd, and supporting wildlife on the ranch, like the displaced Moose which are relocated to the ranch through their partnership with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. With improved forage and management the Taylors have also begun grass-finishing cattle on the ranch’s rich forages to sell directly to consumers as organic grass-finished beef. Looking to the future, the Taylor’s hope to continue using grazing to improve their soil and overall ecosystem health and to support the growing network of regenerative ranchers and consumers.

Find them on the web at: http://www.lonetree-ranch.com

Download a PDF version of this article.

“We are a refuge for wildlife, but we also want to push the envelope and promote American ranching.”

– Marissa Taylor

Highlights


HERD SIZE

Lonetree Ranch has been able to begin and consistently grow a thriving yearling enterprise. Through adaptive planned grazing they’ve grown their seasonal yearling herd from 0 to 500 to 2,000 head per year. 

EMPLOYEES

One person and 4 herding dogs can safely move their herds using low-stress animal handling techniques. These practices have reduced labor time in their livestock enterprise by nearly 90% and allowed for more precise and ambitious grazing management. 

HAY YIELDS

The ranch has seen hay yields increase 15 times in fields switched from flood to pivot irrigation due to increased irrigation effectiveness and reduced soil compaction.

Supporting Organizations for Lonetree Ranch

 

NRCS logo
Pasture Map logo
Western Landowners Alliance logo
Trout Unlimited logo
Wyoming Game and Fish Depertment logo
About TomKat Ranch Profiles

 

To showcase the diverse benefits of working lands can provide, TomKat Ranch is gathering and sharing the stories of ranchers around the country that have realized economic benefits from regenerative practices that grow the productivity and resilience of their lands, businesses, and communities.

Contact kevin@tomkatranch.org for more information.