Nearly 50,000 acres of Montana rangeland, from four different ranches in the state, have now become certified by the nationally distinctive Undaunted Stewardship program.
Managed jointly by Montana State University, the federal Bureau of Land Management and the Montana Stockgrowers Association, Undaunted Stewardship® has earned national recognition for its unique approach to stewardship and historic site preservation. A guidance council, representing various national and Montana conservation and agriculture groups, helps oversee the multi-faceted program.
The four newly certified ranches collectively contain 46,365 acres and are located across Montana, from Winifred to Terry. The owners and managers of these lands can now call themselves “Undaunted Land Stewards.” They join 55 other participants in the program that is preserving historic sites along the Lewis and Clark Trail and helping ranch families improve both the stewardship and the economic performance of their ranches. To date, 1,052,270 deeded, private lease, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Forest Service and state-owned acres are managed to meet standards set by the Undaunted Stewardship® program.
To become “Undaunted Land Stewards,” ranches have to meet a series of grazing and other land management standards that ensure the long-term sustainability and productivity of their ranch lands. Before a ranch can become certified as an “Undaunted Land Steward,” it must use a grazing management approach that is documented and monitored, with a written prescription for land management that protects the natural resources. These ranchers demonstrate how ranching can maintain and sustain natural productivity for generations to come.
Carl Wambolt directs the Undaunted Stewardship land use program and coordinates a team of range scientists at Montana State University-Bozeman. The team visits and inventories the ranch, and then helps the ranchers develop written grazing plans. They also help each rancher establish a range monitoring program to collect baseline data that ranchers can use to judge, refine, and continually improve their land management.
“Through the Undaunted Stewardship® program, we are assisting ranchers all over Montana to continue being superior, undaunted land stewards,” said Carl Wambolt. “There is no other voluntary, incentive-based, private-land stewardship program like this in the nation.”
The ranches that have recently completed the certification process are:
Grue Ranch, Terry
Franko Ranch, Terry
Fordyce Ranch, Hilger
Wickens Ranch, Winifred