Two Creek Monture Ranch honored with Environmental Stewardship Award

Ovando ranchers work to make ‘the best, better’ through collaborative conservation efforts

 

  The Two Creek Monture Ranch, from Ovando, Montana, has been recognized as the 2017 Montana Environmental Stewardship Award winners.

 Ranch managers Wayne and Karalee Slaght and family accepted the award Dec. 9 at the Montana Stockgrowers Association Annual Convention and trade show in Billings. The Two Creek Monture Ranch will now represent Montana at the Region IV Environmental Stewardship Award competition in Denver this spring.

Like the old 4-H motto, the ranch team is focused on “making the best better.”

“That, to me, is that it means to be a good steward,” Karalee said. “It’s keeping up with new ideas for improving all of these things.”

The Slaghts manage about 21,000 acres – half deeded and half leased – for owners Ralph and Toone Burchenal on the southern edge of the complex and greatly celebrated Crown of the Continent ecosystem in western Montana. It’s arguably one of the last “best” places in the lower 48, yet the Burchenal and Slaght continue to work to make it even better for future generations with decades of conservation and stewardship behind them and still ahead.

Greg Neudecker, with the Montana Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, has worked with the Slaght family for more than 25 years and recommended the ranch for the award.

“Right now, we have all the critters that were here 200 years ago when Merriweather Lewis came through here. So from a working lands perspective, we don’t have anything else like that in the lower 48 states and very few places in the world – so it’s a very, very special place,” Neudecker said. “It has old growth forests, incredible aspen stands, riparian areas, native bunch grass prairies, glaciated pothole wetlands – it’s got everything, and that’s due in large part to their stewardship.”

Of course, the ranch team’s main focus is the cattle. About 900 make their home on the commercial cow-calf ranch, and they not only co-exist, but play an important part in improving the landscape. Wayne was raised on the neighboring Monture Ranch, where his father worked and managed for most of his ranching career, too. Wayne had been managing the Monture Ranch for more than 15 years when the Burchenals purchased and added it to the Two Creek Ranch, where Wayne, son Ben and brother-in-law Ken Kovatch now manage and work together on private, state and federal land.

“It’s so important to prove – especially to the Fish & Wildlife guys – that cattle are a useful tool for the land,” Wayne said. “They do co-exist with wildlife, which is quite proven on this ranch.”

They’ve been able to grow the cattle herd over the years by not only making their deeded land more productive, but by fostering relationships that have led to new and continued leased grazing opportunities on neighboring state and federal lands. They work to improve owned and leased land alike with strategic rotational grazing, water development and riparian restoration projects.

“We realized we needed to work with all these federal and state agencies – we have to be on the same page,” Wayne said. “We’re here to partner with those folks to help manage the entire landscape. It we weren’t here and they were subdividing us and turning this into houses, we’ve all realized we’d all be in trouble.”

Managing a landscape full of endangered or threatened species – including grizzly bears, wolves and bull trout – plus abundant elk, deer, Sandhill cranes, turkeys and trumpeter swans, requires planning, innovation and a lot of collaboration in order to stay in business and balance a healthy ecosystem.

“Those species are all indicators – grizzly bears are large landscape indicators, bull trout are clean water indicators, trumpeter swans are healthy wetland indicators. So those are all indicators of how well a landscape has been managed,” Neudecker said. “One of the things that wildlife is completely compatible with is ranching. If we don’t have ranching and livestock and private landowners to maintain these open landscapes, we don’t have places for these wild critters to roam, either.”

The ranch played a key role in the rehabilitation of bull trout redds (spawning sites) on Monture Creek over the past 30 years, and continue to seek new ways to develop water that will enhance their grazing rotation and conserve riparian areas and in-stream flow for fisheries.

“Obviously, balancing the needs of fish and wildlife with the agricultural operation has its challenges in the modern world,” Ron Pierce, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologist wrote in his letter of recommendation. “With these challenges in mind, the Two Creek Ranch has been a progressive leader with the ranching/conservation community of the Blackfoot Valley.”

That leadership extends beyond the ranching community, too. Wayne’s been a 4-H leader for nearly 40 years, served on local school boards, the volunteer fire department, coached grade school basketball and more, while frequently hosting local, state, national and international tour groups on the ranch to share conservation efforts and ideas.

“They’re not only a voice of reason, they’re a practice of reason that’s really, really good for our industry,” neighboring rancher David Mannix said. “Wayne’s an early adapter. He has the courage to implement some of these things, and then he also has courage to share failures or challenges so the next neighbor can do it a little better and the third guy can do it a little bit better still.”

Like his father and ranching mentors before him, Wayne’s focus on making the ‘best, better,’ is geared toward leaving the land and leadership of the industry in better shape with the next generation. Ben came back to the ranch full-time in 2008 after earning a business degree from the University of Montana Western.

“I’d love to stay here and keep working to improve the ranch every day,” Ben said. “We’ve just got to keep doing our homework and looking around us to see what’s changing, what’s next. We’re always learning. We’re constantly learning more about trees, about grass, about water – learning to increase what we can do with those resources. You’re constantly learning, constantly changing and keeping an open mind to the fact that we don’t know everything – you can always learn more from somebody else.”

2017_esap_twocreek-by-ln-34-1

SIDEBAR:

Two Creek Monture Ranch // CONSERVATION BY THE NUMBERS

  • Improved management on more than 15 riparian miles on four different creeks on the ranch, each which support valuable fisheries and water sources for livestock and wildlife.
  • Entered more than 5,000 acres of valuable grasslands, wetlands, riparian and timberland in to conservation easements to permanently steward those lands through the generations.
  • Restored previously degraded instream habitat on more than 2 miles of streams on the ranch, while maintaining ranch water use and increasing production and irrigation efficiencies.
  • Restored six drained wetlands totaling more than 100 surface acres on the ranch.
  • Played a critical role in returning the final missing species Merriweather Lewis noted in the Blackfoot Valley 200 years ago. Ranch owners Ralph and Toone Burchenal made the initial financial donation to the Trumpeter Swan Restoration Project, and the ranch ushered the first breeding pair onto a restored wetland. Today, more than 10 pairs of Trumpeter Swans are established in the Blackfoot Valley.
  • Developed riparian grazing plans and cooperative agreements to bring Federally Threatened bull trout spawning sites on Monture Creek from a low of eight redds in 1989 to a high of 92 redds, averaging 50 redds annually over the course of the past 30 years.
  • Site of the first grizzly bear depredation on a calf documents in the Blackfoot Valley in more than 50 years. Installed the valley’s first grizzly bear resistant fencing, leading other ranchers to do the same.
  • Five years after their first calf was killed in 1998, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks documented 77 agriculturally-related grizzly bear/human conflicts in the valley. Over the past ten years, thanks to management efforts and best practices by ranches like the Two Creek Monture Ranch and collaboration with cooperating agencies, conflicts have averaged around 12 per year, while the grizzly population has been increasing by 3 percent each year.
  • Improved the forage capacity of one pasture by four times in one year with an aggressive noxious weed control program.

###

 

The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit organization representing nearly 2,500 members, strives to serve, protect and advance the economic, political, environmental and cultural interests of cattle producers, the largest sector of Montana’s number one industry – agriculture.

Department of Livestock Keeps Watchful Eye on Canadian Tuberculosis Cases

The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) is actively monitoring the bovine tuberculosis (TB) investigation in Canada. In late September, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) initiated an epidemiological investigation after bovine TB was detected in a Canadian cow at a United States (US) slaughter facility.

As of December 2, 2016, there are six confirmed cases of bovine TB in Canada, including the index animal detected at slaughter in the US. Of the roughly 40 premises currently under quarantine, most are located in Southeast Alberta with about five premises in Saskatchewan. DOL has long standing requirements that cattle coming from Canada need to be tested for TB prior to import.

“Despite what feels like close proximity of this incident, Montana cattle producers remain safe,” said Montana State Veterinarian, Marty Zaluski. “Canada’s vigorous response, combined with our requirement that Canadian cattle be TB tested before entering Montana, keeps the risk low for ranchers in the state.”

Zaluski is not planning to place additional requirements on Canadian cattle coming to Montana at this time. “I am closely monitoring CFIA’s efforts and am ready to act aggressively if needed,” said Zaluski.

Historically, DOL has recognized the efforts of other state and provincial animal health officials to effectively deal with disease events, and expects the same in return.

CFIA policy requires that all positive animals and any animals exposed to positive animals be humanely destroyed. All exposed animals will be tested first and those that test negative will be eligible to enter the food supply. At this time approximately 10,000 cattle are to be destroyed. The strain of TB identified in the index case closely resembles a strain associated with cattle in Central Mexico, suggesting that wildlife are an unlikely source.

The mission of the DOL is to control and eradicate animal diseases, prevent the transmission of animal diseases to humans, and to protect the livestock industry from theft and predatory animals. For more information on the department, visit www.liv.mt.gov.

MSGA has been closely monitoring the recent TB outbreak in Canada. We have corresponded with State Veterinarian, Dr. Martin Zaluski, DVM and the Montana Congressional Delegation in D.C.. We are feeling confident at this time, that Canada’s aggressive response to the outbreak is the right approach and that Montana’s cattle herd should not be impacted.  

Montana Stockgrowers to Host 132nd Annual Convention in Billings

AC16_banner

Ranchers head to Magic City to attend convention and set policy for upcoming year

December 7-9. Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) will celebrate 132 years of serving the state’s ranchers with their Annual Convention & Trade Show. This year’s meetings at the Radisson Hotel in Billings will host a trade show, educational workshops, policy meetings, over $100,000 in prizes and live music.

“It is time to make plans to attend the Annual Convention in Billings. Greet old friends and meet new ones while you work together to discuss important issues and set policy to guide your leadership for the 2017 legislative session,“ says MSGA President, Gene Curry from Valier.  “While there you will have opportunity to listen to informative speakers and educational programs. You will also have a chance to bid on a John Deere Gator, win a lease on a Massey tractor or drive home a new Ford truck!”

NCBA President, Tracy Brunner will be the featured speaker during Thursday’s Opening General Session.

A broad range of educational workshops will be offered during the Stockgrowers College. Speakers will touch on topics of vaccination programs, calf health and nutrition, calf management, antibiotic use, Grizzly Bear management, UAV’s in agriculture, DNA technology, livestock marketing, risk management and estate planning.

Each night of Annual Convention will feature viewing of the NFR on the big screens. Thursday night will include the second NFR Calcutta at MSGA Annual Convention, benefiting the Montana Stockgrowers’ Foundation. Friday night will feature live music from Insufficient Funds Band.

Friday’s Grand Finale Banquet will be highlighted by the annual live auction for Cattle Directory Priority Page advertisements. Over $100,000 in prizes will be awarded including a Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup and a Massey Ferguson tractor lease.

Policy meetings will take place on Wednesday and Thursday of Annual Convention. Guest speakers will address a number of topics affecting Montana’s ranching communities during the past year and in months to come. They will set policy and priorities for the upcoming Legislative Session. A Trade Show with over 100 booth spaces will be open to the public Thursday and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

A full meeting agenda, hotel information, details of policy meeting discussions and Stockgrowers College workshops is available on the MSGA website at www.mtbeef.org. Online and discounted registration closes Thursday, December 1. On-site registration will be available starting December 7. For more information, contact the Montana Stockgrowers Association at (406) 442-3420.

 

###

The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit organization representing nearly 2,500 members, strives to serve, protect and advance the economic, political, environmental and cultural interests of cattle producers, the largest sector of Montana’s number one industry – agriculture.

Montana Stockgrowers Association Opposes Initiative I-77

I-177 is an initiative that will appear on the ballot this November. The measure bans the use of traps for preventing the spread of disease and controlling dangerous predators on public lands in Montana. The Montana Stockgrowers Association’s (MSGA) vision is to exemplify leading innovation in ranching while preserving Montana’s complex natural landscape, history, economy, ethics and social values. I-177 fails to embody the vision of Montana’s ranching sector.

I-177 does not allow today’s advanced and ethical methods of trapping, to occur until after all non-lethal methods have been tried and found unsuccessful to prevent killing of cattle, thus deteriorating a rancher’s means to invest in environmental stewardship.

MSGA has worked proactively with the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and other stakeholders to evaluate trapping season structures, quotas and establish setbacks on public lands to avoid conflicts. Our system has worked and continues to work for Montana.

We cannot afford to limit Montana’s ability to manage public landscapes. MSGA encourages you to vote “no” on I-177.

Gene Curry
President
Montana Stockgrowers Association

CATTLE CRAWL – PROGRESSIVE BEEF DINNER IN BILLINGS, OCTOBER 9

Experience a night of culinary fusion, Montana style! Meet local chefs and local beef producers as they bring you their latest creations during a walking tour of three premiere downtown Billings restaurants. Registration is open for the 2016 Cattle Crawl, taking place in downtown Billings on Sunday, October 9, beginning at 5:00 p.m.

The Cattle Crawl is an opportunity to acquaint urban consumers with area ranchers to feature beef in a creative way. The tour kicks off at Stacked a lively tavern with a contemporary vibe for an opportunity for diners to enjoy beef appetizers. The dinner tour then continues with stops at Noodles O’Brien at Thirsty Street Brewing before finishing the crawl at TEN at The Northern.

The annual Cattle Crawl is made possible by Montana beef producers and their Checkoff dollars. Proceeds benefit leadership and education programs for young ranchers involved with the Montana Stockgrowers Association.

Tickets are $65 per person and include food, drinks and a commemorative Montana Cattle Crawl pint glass. This event is limited to 50 participants, so be sure to register early to attend this fun evening of beef dishes and fun in downtown Billings.

2016-cattle-crawl

China Lifts Ban on U.S. Beef

After 13 years of closed access, the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) welcomed the news of the Chinese government lifting the ban on the import of U.S. beef. As one of the largest importers of beef, exports to China will open up new opportunities for Montana ranchers.

China’s imports have risen dramatically, reaching a record $2.3 billion in 2015. USDA forecasts that China will surpass Japan as the second-largest beef importer with imports estimated at 825,000 tons in 2016. Rapidly rising demand for beef has made China the fastest-growing beef market in the world.

Montana Stockgrowers President, Gene Curry of Valier notes, “This news comes at a time when the markets are at the top of mind for every cattle producer. China is home to one-fifth of the global population and a major importer of protein, we look forward to providing China with high quality beef. On behalf of our membership, I would like to personally thank Senator Daines and Ambassador Baucus for their work in opening this exciting new market.”

This past May, MSGA sent a letter to Vice-Premier Zhang that was hand delivered by U.S. Senator Steve Daines. The letter promoted Montana beef’s quality and encouraged lifting the ban on U.S. beef.

###

The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit organization representing nearly 2,500 members, strives to serve, protect and advance the economic, political, environmental and cultural interests of cattle producers, the largest sector of Montana’s number one industry – agriculture.

Montana Stockgrowers Seeking Applicants for Year Two of Leadership Series

The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) is excited to announce the second year of a leadership program for young leaders in the ranching industry. The Stockgrowers Leadership Series is designed to provide training and skills to future leaders of MSGA and Montana’s ranching communities. The 12-month class kicks off in January 2017 in Helena. Applications are due October 31.

“We are excited to launch the second year of MSGA’s Leadership Series,” says Errol Rice, MSGA Executive Vice President. “Investing in leadership is a core strategy of MSGA’s long-range plan and our industry’s success will rely on our ability to develop a pipeline of leaders who are disciplined, well trained and inspired by the future of ranching.”

The Leadership Series is a 12-month program where participants will take part in a number of workshops and sessions exposing them to different aspects of the ranching business today. These topics include policy work, banking and finance, management, business relationships, awareness of industry topics, media training, and beef consumer concerns.

Program participants will also work with a designated leadership coach to build upon their strengths and skills. Sarah Bohnenkamp, former Executive Director for the Denver based, American National CattleWomen, will coach the class in a series of workshops, webinars and at-home tasks throughout the year. Bohnenkamp has more than 14 years’ experience with leadership development and is familiar with topics faced by the ranching industry, having trained youth for the National Beef Ambassador program for many years.

The Leadership Series class will meet in several locations across Montana over the course of 12 months. Sessions will allow participants to travel on a summer ranch tour, network with industry leaders, gain valuable skills for their careers and be given further opportunities to be engaged in leadership positions upon completion of the course.

Applicants for the Stockgrowers Leadership Series should be between the ages of 25 and 40, be involved in the Montana ranching industry and have a strong interest in improving their leadership and business skills. Both ranchers and Allied Industry members are encouraged to apply.

For more information, contact the Montana Stockgrowers Association at (406) 442-3420 or email Kori Anderson at kori@mtbeef.org. Applications are available at mtbeef.org/leadership-series. All submissions should be postmarked no later than October 31, 2016.

###

The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit organization representing nearly 2,500 members, strives to serve, protect and advance the economic, political, environmental and cultural interests of cattle producers, the largest sector of Montana’s number one industry – agriculture.

 

Montana Stockgrowers Association Seeks Nominations for Ranching Woman of the Year

The Montana Stockgrowers Association is seeking nominations for the 2016 Montana Ranching Woman of the Year. The annual award is presented to an MSGA member who has made great contributions to the Montana ranching community and has gone above and beyond to support their family and friends. Nominations are due October 31 and the recipient will be recognized at MSGA’s annual convention in Billings, December 7-9.

“Women are the backbone of Montana’s ranching communities. These women go above and beyond to support their immediate family members and pitch in whenever the need arises in their communities,” said Gene Curry, MSGA President from Valier. “We look forward to recognizing these accomplished women each year at our annual convention and thanking them for their hard work.”

Last year’s recipient of the Ranching Woman of the Year was Lila Taylor, who ranches with her husband, Watty, near Kirby. Lila has served in the Montana House of Representatives and on the Montana Board of Regents. She currently serves on the Montana Higher Education Student Assistance Corporation Board and Student Assistant Foundation Board. In 2015 she was appointed to a seat on the Montana Board of Livestock by Governor Bullock.

Past recipients of the award include Bev Fryer of White Sulphur Springs, Glenna Stucky of Avon, Floydena Garrison of Glen, Helen Hougen of Melstone, Marian Hanson of Ashland, Carol Mosher of Augusta and Donna Sitz-Arthun of Billings.

Nomination letters submitted by family or close friends should identify a ranching woman, who is a member of Montana Stockgrowers, describe her role on the ranch, and the characteristics that set her apart when supporting the family and ranch, as well as describe her involvement in community efforts. Biographies should include the ranching woman’s hometown, family members, and number of years involved in ranching activities.

Nominations should be submitted to the Montana Stockgrowers office by October 31, 2015 via mail (420 N. California, Helena, MT 59601) or email (lorrie@mtbeef.org). For more information contact the MSGA office at (406) 442-3420 or visit mtbeef.org/ranching-woman.

MSGA Board of Directors Upcoming Vacancies

There will be three vacancies on the board of Directors this upcoming December. MSGA will be taking nominations for these positions until September 30, 2016.

Below are the directors that will have reached their term limit and will be leaving the Board. President Gene Curry will also complete his two year term this December. We want to thank these four for their years of service to MSGA! Without their dedication and hard work, MSGA would not be the success that it is.
In compliance with Association bylaws, the MSGA Board of Directors will appoint a nominating committee consisting of seven members to nominate candidates for all upcoming vacancies. Nominees should be members in good standing and participate in the nominating committee’s interview and nomination process. Nominations for Director positions should be submitted to the Stockgrowers office. Please fill out this form and send it to jesse@mtbeef.org.

President
Gene Curry

Northeast District
Jim Steinbeisser

South Central District
Tim Todd

Southeast District
Terry Haughian

District Map

2016 T-Bone Classic Gala and Golf Scramble

Ranchers and leaders from Montana’s business communities had a great time at Big Sky last week for the 2016 T-Bone Classic. The event included a gala dinner and golf tournament, Calcutta auction and a day of great golf on the Big Sky Golf Course with great views below Lone Peak.

The event benefits Montana Stockgrowers’ Research & Education Endowment Foundation and provides an opportunity for networking among leaders of Montana’s leading businesses and industries. The T-Bone Classic is the second largest tournament held at the Big Sky Golf Course.

This year’s winners included first place finisher – Tilleman Ag Equipment, second place – Erickson Financial Strategies and third place – Showdown. The calcutta winners were as follows: 1st place – Tilleman Ag Equipment, 2nd place – Bill Donald and 3rd place – Holden Herefords.

Teams getting ready!

The teams getting ready to tee off!

Thursday night’s gala dinner featured specialty cut T-Bone Steaks from cattle raised by Fred Wacker’s Cross Four Ranch in Miles City and provided by Open Prairie Natural Angus Beef.

A Calcutta auction raised $16,075 with prize money being paid out to the top three teams. The remaining dollars go to support MSGA’s Foundation programs in the areas of youth, education and leadership in Montana’s ranching communities.

Friday morning kicked off with a Welcome Brunch, teams then teed off for a shotgun start and played all 18 holes at the Big Sky Golf Course. An awards reception concluded the day’s events recognizing tournament and calcutta winners.

Montana Stockgrowers’ Research and Education Endowment Foundation wants to thank all sponsors and teams who showed up in support of this year’s T-Bone Classic. Pencil in the 2017 T-Bone Classic, August 2017 in Big Sky! To reserve your team’s spot in next year’s tournament, fill out the form provided below or click here to open the form in a new window.

2016 T-Bone Classic tournament winners - Tilleman Ag Equipment

2016 T-Bone Classic Tournament winners – Tilleman Ag Equipment

To view photos of this year’s T-Bone Classic events and golf teams, visit the Montana Stockgrowers Association Facebook and Flickr pages.

A big thank you to the sponsors that made this year’s T-Bone Classic a success: Timeless Spirits, Rabo AgriFinance, Montana Natural Poultry, LLC, Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, Erickson Financial Strategies, Waddell and Reed, Northwest Farm Credit Farm Services, Ehlke Herefords, Loomix, Gorgeous Vodka, Pure West – Christie’s International Real Estate, BNSF, Wipfli LLP, and Grande Ranch!