What Works for Wildlife Is Also Better for Montana Rancher and Her Livestock

On the Endecott Ranch near Ennis, Montana, cows are number one. From calving through weaning, and throughout the long, harsh winters in the Madison Valley, Janet Endecott’s Red Angus and Herefords receive the best of everything. “We’ve got this operation set up so it works just right for the cows," says Janet. “In order to keep them happy and healthy, you need good land and water.” The nexus for happy and healthy on Janet’s place is South Meadow Creek. Originating in the southern Tobacco Root Mountains, the stream meanders through the heart of the ranch’s main pastures. On days of extreme heat or bitter cold, native willow thickets – a rancher’s best friend, Janet says — offer her cows shade or shelter from frigid winds; water from the creek irrigates the pastures; and at all times, there’s drinking water, the single most important nutrient for a cow. So when Sunni Heikes-Knapton, Watershed Coordinator for the Madison Conservation District (MCD), sat down with Janet and Bob Endecott to present her ideas for improving the stream, Janet’s initial response was, “You want to do WHAT?!” Sunni proposed fencing the stream corridor on each side, creating a long, narrow riparian pasture of about four acres. Janet’s two largest pastures would be configured, north and south of the creek. Her c

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One thought on “What Works for Wildlife Is Also Better for Montana Rancher and Her Livestock

  1. Thanks for bringing this story to the world. We have had very similar experiences on our own property. While we started off with some simple ideas about getting the cows out of the creek, it became clear that riparian projects have a big effect on…everything. One thing I’ve noticed is how difficult it is for many people to accept the idea that when we take better care of the water and wildlife, we actually make more money.

    Bravo to everyone involved, and keep up the good work.

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