Low Impact Ranching
by Jamie Henneman of Tonasket, WA
Washington man makes most of his land with “leave no trace” stewardship methods
Change really can be a good thing, according to one Eastern Washington rancher, especially when change allows a ranching operation to expand and be more profitable. By making a few basic alterations to his cattle management, Colville area rancher Ron Rose is getting better use of his pasture ground, making more of his water resources, and now has the option of doubling his herd size.
By employing some low-impact management tools, Rose has been able to make a 160-acre spread jump from supporting 35 cow-calf pairs to 100 pairs through the use of an off-site watering system and special feeding methods. Lush green pasture grasses are also prevalent on the ranch due to mindful management of how to evenly spread cattle traffic and their manure byproduct.
All this has been done at the Rose “Big Sircle-Little Ranch” through his unique leave-no-trace style of ranching that is yielding both benefits to his operation and the environment.
Riverside Pasture and Off-Site Watering
One of Rose’s most recent projects has been an innovative off-site watering system that allows his cattle better access to water and encourages broader cattle traffic over his land. The 160-acre pasture that borders the Colville River in Stevens County would seem an ideal location for cattle, due to its close proximity to a water source. But instead of going the traditional route and having his cattle water at the river, Rose has installed several 150 gallon watering troughs throughout the grazing ground. A 430-foot well pumps the water to the tanks at 100-gallons-a-minute and water levels are maintained through use of an in-trough float. These troughs are positioned on a six-foot long cement slab that helps prevent one of the common problems associated with off-site watering – boggy ground. “Putting in these tanks has not only increased the availability of water for the cattle, but it has also allowed me to get better grazing dispersal over my fields,” Rose explained. “Instead of the cattle hanging around the water tank, they come and get a drink and then move on.”