2010 Environmental Stewardship Award Winner
Region VI: TN Ranching Co. and Tavaputs Ranch
Butch and Jeanie Jensen, Tate Jensen, Jennie Jensen, Jim and Klenell Jensen
Nominated by the Utah Cattlemen’s Association
The TN Ranching Co. and Tavaputs Ranch, owned and managed by the Jensen family, Price, Utah, is a 2010 regional Environmental Stewardship Award winner. Representing Region VI * of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the ranch family was recognized for their commitment to protecting the environment through sound conservation at a reception here last night, during the 2010 Cattle Industry Summer Conference.
The ESAP award, now in its 20th year, is sponsored by Dow Agro Sciences; USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); the National Cattlemen’s Foundation (NCF) and NCBA. One of the seven regional nominees will receive the national award at the cattle industry’s winter convention in February 2011.
Tavaputs’ principals are managing partners Butch and Jeanie Jensen, son Tate and daughter, Jennie, and partners Jim and Kennel Jensen. Their remote Utah ranch, once a hospitable horse-trading stop for Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch, is now a fifth generation cow-calf operation, carried out on 30,000 acres of private range land. They have 400 acres of irrigated farmland and a feedlot, and access to 320,000 acres of state and federal range land.
Tavaputs Ranch prioritizes practices that improve its resources over time, which is critical in an area that’s prone to drought four in every 10 years. Maximizing rotational grazing is key; the ranch utilizes range monitoring transects on many locations and continually works with a variety of agencies to evaluate grazing impacts.
The Jensen’s, who strive to maintain a 1,200-head herd, own more than 13,000 animal unit months of Bureau of Land Management grazing permits, making them the largest permit holder in eastern Utah. However, they use only about half of those in a year, saving the balance as a safety net in drought years. They don’t hesitate to make operational adjustments, even difficult ones, when necessary. In the drought of 1990, for example, they sold 500 mother cows so as not to overgraze and damage overall range health.
“They have done an outstanding job of matching livestock carrying capacity with maintaining and enhancing the wildlife and other resource values. The system of pastures and ponds they have created insures vegetation is utilized consistently with sound stewardship,” said Bob Hammond, lands program manager for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which supported the Tavaputs’ ESAP nomination.
The Utah Cattlemen’s Association, which nominated Tavaputs, cited additional examples and results of the ranch’s exemplary resource management:
* Tavaputs creates water collection and storage wherever possible by developing springs and building a large number of ponds, especially on the desert allotments. Additionally, due to the nature of their grazing permits, the ranch hauls water in trucks ranging from 2,000 to 5,500 gallons the entire winter season.
* At the feedlot, runoff ponds and a well, drilled for feedlot stock water, help mitigate pollution. Livestock are fenced out of live water.
* Water improvements help support a herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, year-round herds of antelope, as well as elk and mule deer.
* Tavaputs regularly cleans up ranch ponds, all of which silt up eventually. Most ponds on the property periodically run dry, which ensures the range is never grazed exactly the same from year to year. Thus, grazing patterns rotate naturally, based on pond cycles and water hauling.
“For generations, this family has made sure that every natural resource, from water to wild beauty, is wisely used and carefully nourished,” said Brent Tanner, executive vice president of the UCA.
The Jensen’s have been active conservationists, leading by example both on and off the ranch, and have joined with numerous resource stewardship partners, including the NRCS; Utah State University; the U.S. Forest Service, the Aspen Research Project; Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources; University of Utah Range Creek Archeology Project; the Sage Grouse Habitat Project; the Utah Farm Bureau Federation; Southern Utah University; and the Utah Hummingbird Banding Project, to name a few, Tanner added.
(* NCBA’s Region VI includes Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.)