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Russell Davis Speaks in Support of Ranchers Working Collaboratively with The Service

Steve Jester is the executive director of Partners for Conservation, a non-profit led by private landowners working with agencies, other non-profit organizations, and policymakers to collaborate on conservation projects for present and future generations.

Earlier this month, I attended an annual meeting of conservation districts in Northern Utah. A conservation district is a subdivision of state government led by elected agricultural producers, landowners, and other community members. These groups are responsible for working with USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and local conservation partners to improve the stewardship of natural resources (soil, water, range, wildlife, fisheries, etc. ) in the area they serve.

One of the main speakers at the annual meeting was rancher Russell Davis. Russell is a board member of Partners for Conservation and his inspiring story of addressing conservation challenges on his own ranch resonates strongly with local conservation districts.

Russell Davis holding a Plover
Russell Davis holding a Plover

Russell grew up on the Wineinger-Davis Ranch on the eastern plains of Colorado. After finishing college, Davis returned to the ranch to run day-to-day operations. Along with 500 black and red angus mother cows, 40 angus bulls, and 400 yearlings, the ranch has a variety of wildlife, thanks to some excellent habitat. Short grass prairie, cottonwood/willow riparian corridor, playas, and sand sagebrush are all found on the ranch, creating homes for mountain plover, swift fox, black tailed prairie dog, burrowing owl, and many more wildlife species.

One day while on the ranch, Davis noticed a researcher observing a mountain plover that was being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. After inquiring, and discovering that so many of these birds were breeding on his ranch, Davis got to know the researchers, and adopted a mission to educate himself and his neighbors, and collaborate with a broad coalition of government agencies and nonprofits to protect the mountain plover. Russell’s cooperation resulted in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service learning a lot more about the bird and determining that the grazing regime on the ranch was the reason there were so many breeding pairs utilizing the ranch.

The thrust of Davis’ message to the landowners in Utah was to actively engage and collaborate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state agencies, and other partners in conservation issues- namely the proposed listing of greater sage grouse. Davis encouraged them to get involved and engaged because that will give them an opportunity to help shape the outcome.  This message of engagement and collaboration is central to both the method and the mission of Partners for Conservation.

For more information about Partners for Conservation, visit their website here.

Permanent link to this article: http://refugeassociation.org/2014/01/russell-davis-speaks-at-in-support-of-ranchers-working-collaboratively-with-the-service/

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