Fundraiser Auction Supports Environmental Stewardship

montana environmental stewardship award programOn Friday, September 18, ranchers and Billings-area residents gathered for a night of beef, wine and fun at Yellowstone Cellars and Winery, hosted by Clint Peck. Proceeds from the event go to support the Montana Environmental Stewardship Program (ESAP).

The night’s events included good wine, fresh beef tri-tip grilled by Chef Megan Jessee thanks to the Montana Beef Council, and several donated items auctioned by Ron Dinkle. The auction raised more than $4,000, which will go toward outreach efforts to help ranchers share their stories of environmental stewardship.

In its 25th year, ESAP recognizes Montana ranchers who go the extra mile to preserve and enhance the resources on their land through management that promotes environmental stewardship, conservation and sustainability. These practices include management that promotes

  • Conservation of natural resources,
  • Coexistence with wildlife habitat,
  • Clean water sources,
  • Range health and diversity,
  • Healthy, wholesome beef products, and
  • Sustainable contributions to rural economies

Each year, Montana Stockgrowers recognizes ranchers at the forefront of conservation and stewardship with a commitment toward improved sustainability within the beef industry. Ranchers must complete an extensive application and share their story of work in the areas of

  • Diversity in Rangeland and Wildlife Management,
  • Sustainability on the Ground and in Rural Communities,
  • Partnerships Toward Improved Ranching, and
  • Environmental & Economic Management Goals.

State winners selected by the Montana Stockgrowers Association advance to the regional and national levels. Montana has a strong history of regional and national winners in years since ESAP was established. This year, the American Fork Ranch from Two Dot is the Region V ESAP winner and will continue to compete for the National award, to be announced January 27-29 in San Diego.

The 2016 Montana ESAP recipient will be announced at the Stockgrowers Annual Convention, December 3-5 in Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark in Billings.

To learn more about Montana ESAP or to donate to the program, visit

American Fork Ranch Wins Regional Award for Environmental Stewardship

American Fork Ranch Environmental StewardshipAmerican Fork Ranch of Two Dot, Mont., was honored with one of seven regional Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) awards. The honorees, announced during last week’s 2015 Cattle Industry Summer Conference, were recognized for their outstanding stewardship practices. This year’s regional winners will compete for the national award, which will be announced during the 25th anniversary celebration in January 2016.

ESAP is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation, and is presented to farmers and ranchers who demonstrate a commitment to protecting the farm and ranch land in their care.

“The American Fork Ranch is a part of Montana history, established in 1882 and dating back to days of the Montana Territory. The Stevens family has owned the ranch since 1945 and currently has the fifth generation actively involved in ranch operations and the community,” said Jay Bodner, Montana Stockgrowers Association director of natural resources. “Under the management of Jed and Annie Evjene, the American Fork Ranch has experienced a transformation in sustainability, stewardship and conservation through a number of public and private partnerships. Through a dedication to long-term stewardship, the American Fork Ranch continuously works to improve their cattle operation to benefit their environment, wildlife, resources, community and employees.”

At American Fork Ranch, they’ve found that what’s good for cattle production is also good for the wildlife – and by improving their pastures through cross fencing and adding an extensive system of waterlines, the work has also improved habitat for the native animals.

In 2008, American Fork Ranch embarked upon an ambitious, multi-tiered program to wholly rejuvenate the ranch’s native prairies. To do this, the Evjenes worked in partnership with the NRCS and its Environmental Quality Incentives Program. This program helped them to cross-fence, develop water, complete range assessment of the ranch, collect soil samples, and develop a formal and intricate rotational grazing program. Specifically, the largest implementation was the addition of 25 miles of interior cross fencing. This divided 23 pastures that were once very large into more efficient average sizes of 350 acres, creating 49 efficient grazing pastures.

Grazing each pasture for seven days has allowed the ranch to keep forage in front of the livestock and increase weaning weights on the calves, while increasing overall herd health. Pasture start times are adjusted so that each pasture is not used at the same times each year. Resting each pasture for 45 days between rotation cycles has allowed them to clearly monitor the growing and sustained health of the range as the native plants and wildlife mature and flourish.

Some of the dominant wildlife species that share the open spaces of the ranch and its riparian corridors include antelope, whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, moose, black bear, mountain lion, bobcat, coyotes, ducks, geese, sandhill cranes, eastern brook trout, along with several other wildlife species.

“Being able to walk out here or drive here and see good healthy livestock, good healthy wildlife, clear running water and lots of grass. Knowing that we as a team worked together to succeed in this is very rewarding for all of us here on the ranch,” said Jed Evjene. “We wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Ranches receiving ESAP recognition from other regions include Valley View Farms, Harrisonburg, Va.; Bull Hammock Ranch, Fort Pierce, Fla.; Glenn and Bev Rowe, Lorimor, Iowa; 6666 Ranch, Gutherie, Texas; Maggie Creek Ranch, Elko, Nev.; and Kopriva Angus, Raymond, S.D.

Read more about the American Fork Ranch, who was recognized as the Montana ESAP recipient earlier this year by MSGA.

Montana Stockgrowers Seeking Applications for 2015 Environmental Stewardship Award

montana environmental stewardship award programHelena, MT – Do you know a Montana rancher who is a leader in stewardship and sustainability, implementing conservation practices to ensure the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of their operation? Encourage them to apply for the Montana Environmental Stewardship Award, presented by the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA). Applications for the 2015 award are due June 30.

Each year, MSGA honors Montana ranches that exemplify environmental stewardship and demonstrate commitment toward improved sustainability within their communities. This award recognizes Montana ranchers who are at the forefront in conservation and stewardship and are willing to serve as examples for other ranchers.

“Montana ranchers are leaders in this country when it comes to being stewards of our environment and conserving the natural resources that help make Montana such a great state to live in,” said Gene Curry, MSGA President and rancher from Valier. “We are asking the community to get involved in helping us identify ranches that really go above and beyond when it comes to environmental stewardship and conservation in their local areas.”

American Fork Ranch Environmental Stewardship Jed Evjene David StevensLast year’s recipient of the ESAP recognition was the American Fork Ranch, a commercial cow-calf operation in Wheatland and Sweet Grass counties. The American Fork is owned by the Stevens family and is managed by Jed and Annie Evjene, long-time active members of MSGA.

Over the past 17 years, the Stevens and Evjene families have focused on establishing relationships among all key aspects of the ranch: rangeland, water, crop production, cattle herd, wildlife, cottonwood forests, employees, family, community and the beef industry to integrate a model of sustainability. These cooperative efforts have led to relationships and projects in coordination with professionals from numerous universities, state and federal agencies, area and state Stockgrower organizations, and several youth programs.

Today, the American Fork Ranch is home to a diverse population of plant species and managed wildlife populations. Intensive record keeping, over a decade of range monitoring, water development projects and weed management have led to pasture conditions that promote diverse plant species and thick stands of stockpiled forage for year-round grazing. A heavy focus on riparian area management has allowed for recovery of plant species, Cottonwood forest regrowth, improved water quality and enhanced wildlife habitat, even in the presence of livestock grazing.

Read more about the American Fork Ranch on our blog.

Ranches wishing to apply for the 2015 ESAP award and recognition are asked to complete an application packet (available on our ESAP page), due to MSGA by June 30. Nominations can be submitted by contacting the MSGA office. Ranches must be a member of the Montana Stockgrowers Association to qualify for the award.

The ranch chosen for the award will be announced at MSGA’s Annual Convention and Trade Show in Billings, Dec. 3-5 at the MetraPark in Billings. The Montana ESAP winner will then prepare their application for the Regional and National Award competition, which is typically due in early March of the following year.

Since 1992, Montana Stockgrowers has honored 22 state winners, ten of whom went on to win the regional award and two named national award winners. To learn more, visit, or contact Ryan Goodman at [email protected] or (406) 442-3420. The Montana Environmental Stewardship Award is funded in part by Montana Beef Producers with Checkoff Dollars.

ESAP Application logo

NCBA Environmental Stewardship Award Calls for Entries

ESAP Application logoDENVER — The 24th annual Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) has officially opened its nomination season for 2014. Established in 1991 by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation (NCF) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the program has recognized the outstanding stewardship practices and conservation achievements of U.S. cattle producers for more than two decades. Regional and national award winners are honored for their commitment to protecting the environment and improving fish and wildlife habitat while operating profitable cattle businesses.

Seven regional winners and one national winner are selected annually by a committee of representatives from universities, conservation organizations, federal and state agencies, and cattle producers. The nominees compete for regional awards based on their state of residency, and these seven regional winners then compete for the national award. Candidates are judged on management of water, wildlife, vegetation, soil, as well as the nominee’s leadership and the sustainability of his or her business as a whole.

“America’s cattlemen and women have always been focused on environmental stewardship and conservation, and these awards give us a chance to celebrate their dedication,” said NCBA President Scott George. “Over the past two decades, the ESAP program has inspired cattle producers to try new techniques, and shown the world that we are the true environmentalists. If you haven’t taken the opportunity in the past to nominate a ranch family you know, now is the time!”

Any individual, group or organization is eligible to nominate one individual or business that raises or feeds cattle. Past nominees are eligible and encouraged to resubmit their application; previous winners may not reapply. Along with a completed application, the applicant must submit one nomination letter and three letters of recommendation highlighting the nominee’s leadership in conservation.

The program is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the NCF and NCBA.

Applications for the 2014 ESAP award are due Mar. 7, 2014. For more information and a complete application packet visit: – See more at

Montana Padlock Ranch Environmental Stewardship

Padlock Ranch among regional Environmental Stewardship award winners

Montana Padlock Ranch Environmental StewardshipNCBA Press Release

DENVER – Seven cattle operations from across the country were recognized as 2013 regional Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) winners during the 2013 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver, Colo., today. The seven regional winners will compete for the national ESAP award, which will be announced during the 2014 Cattle Industry Annual Convention and Trade Show in Nashville, Tenn.

ESAP, now in its 23rd year, was created to recognize beef producers who make environmental stewardship a priority on their farms and ranches while they also improve production and profitability. The ESAP award is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences; USDA-NRCS; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA); and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation.

The regional winners are Mountain Meadows Farm, Sudbury, Vt.; Kissimmee Park Properties, St. Cloud, Fla.; BitterSweet Acres, Greenville, Iowa; Frank and Sims Price Ranch, Sterling City, Texas; Padlock Ranch Company, Ranchester, Wyo.; Kualoa Ranch, Kane‘ohe, Hawaii; and Gracie Creek Landowners Association, Burwell, Neb.

Regional and national award winners have been commended for their commitment to protecting the environment and improving fish and wildlife habitats while operating profitable cattle operations. The common trait among all winners is the desire to leave the land in better shape for future generations while also inspiring the next generation of land stewards.

“America’s farmers and ranchers are passionate about their land, and it shows through conservation and environmental stewardship efforts,” said NCBA President Scott George. “The cattle industry is continually improving upon our environmental sustainability, and these seven finalists set an example that we should all strive to achieve. We look forward to naming one of these seven great cattle operations as our 2014 national ESAP award winner in Nashville next year.”

MSGA nominates Keystone Ranches of Ismay for Environmental Stewardship Award

Helena – The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) recently nominated Keystone Ranches, Inc. and the Bill Almy family of Ismay, Mont. for the 2011 regional and national Environmental Stewardship Award sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation. This annual award recognizes the outstanding stewardship practices and conservation achievements of cattle ranchers across the nation. Keystone Ranches was the winner of MSGA’s 2011 Montana Environmental Stewardship Award, presented at MSGA’s Annual Convention in December 2010.

“Bill Almy has been a member of MSGA since 1950 and has been the driving force behind the improved environment on Keystone Ranches since 1960,” said Ariel Overstreet, MSGA’s manager of communications. “The long history of Keystone Ranches under the care of the Almy family demonstrates the positive impact that environmental stewardship can play in the profitability and sustainability of a ranching operation, as well as the health and well-being of the landscape, wildlife populations and local communities.”

Over the past 50 years, the Almys have made the best use of available resources. In partnership with various groups and agencies, they have implemented water and grazing management innovations on Keystone Ranches that have raised the carrying capacity of the land by almost 50 percent, cut their debt-to-asset ratio from 55 percent to under 15 percent, improved wildlife habitat, maintained long-term relationships with employees, and supported their eastern Montana community.

“The Almys have been great leaders in our state industry and in their local communities,” Overstreet said. “MSGA was proud to nominate the Almys for the regional and national award.”

Regional winners of the Environmental Stewardship Award will be notified in May with a public announcement to follow in July. The national winner will be announced at the 2012 Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn. To learn more about the Montana Environmental Stewardship Award and see MSGA’s nomination submission for the national award, click here. For more information on the national Environmental Stewardship Award Program, click here.

MSGA is seeking applications for the 2012 Montana Environmental Stewardship Award. Initial applications are due June 1, 2011 and final submissions are due Sept. 1. To learn more, visit the link above, or call Ariel Overstreet at (406) 442-3420. The Montana Environmental Stewardship Award is sponsored by MSGA’s Research, Education and Endowment Foundation brought to you by Montana Beef Producers and Checkoff Dollars.