Jack and Tuda Libby Crews are the seventh generation living and working on the Ute Creek Cattle Company near Mosquero, New Mexico. When they inherited Tuda’s family ranch and moved back in 2001, Tuda writes “Jack and I were faced with myriad challenges as a severe 12-year drought and poor management showed 50 percent bare ground on the rangeland. Ten miles of unfenced Ute Creek meandering through the ranch was incised with high cut banks; the dry stream bed was infested with Salt Cedar; wildlife was sparse; four large pastures with four water sources were dispersed on 14,000 acres; and the straight Hereford cow herd was in-bred and wild.”
Tuda and Jack describe what they did to solve these problems in this 7:20 minute video. Working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service through the EQIP program they fenced off riparian areas and eradicated salt cedar to turn Ute Creek into a flowing stream. Now Ute Creek is the water quality standard that other areas in the state are measured against. They also set up a managed, timed grazing system, with 45 miles of new fence that turned their 4 paddocks into 22, and that lets pastures get from 90 to 120 days of rest. The innovative covering they’re using on their water tanks has reduce evaporation by 91% and has saved 16,000 gallons of water on just one tank.
Thanks to their work, wildlife on the ranch has increased, bird species went from 13 in 2001 to 101 in 2009, and the cattle are thriving. Just as importantly, so is the local community. As Lesli Allison, Executive Director of Western Landowners Alliance, says in the video, “Any good land steward, is thinking holistically. They’re thinking about the health of the whole landscape…and that includes people, wildlife, livestock. All of those parts have to be in good shape. And that’s what you see with Tuda and Jack, they’re managing holistically and they care as much about the children in their community, as they do about the land, as they do about the livestock.”
We hope this gives you some ideas to work with in managing your own operation. Enjoy!
Meet the Western Landowners Alliance
This video is one of a series produced by the Western Landowners Alliance to highlight the work being done to create the future they envision, where private and leased public lands in the West are resilient to stressors, healthy, and biologically diverse, and provide for prosperous rural business and critical ecological services. To do this, they share information about innovative practices and scientific research and on-the-ground experience to help one another save time and money, and avoid costly mistakes. They’re also working on solutions to policy and regulatory barriers. You can read about their work on their website, and we’ll also be sharing more in future issues. Stay tuned!