Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Decades of visionary ranching practices paid off for Alexander Ranch, wildlife
PRATT — The Alexander Ranch in Barber County has been selected as the 2010 Kansas Wildlife Habitat Conservation Award winner. The annual award program receives nominations from wildlife biologists from across the state. All nominations are reviewed by committee, and a winner is selected based on overall wildlife habitat quality, quantity, maintenance, and enhancement of the property. Additionally, the state wildlife habitat conservation award winner is then nominated for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ National Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award. The Alexander Ranch is owned and operated by Ted and Brian Alexander.
“The Alexanders’ decades of dedication to the improvement of native grasslands in an area once over-grazed and degraded by the encroachment of eastern redcedar deserves statewide recognition,” said Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) wildlife biologist Chris Berens, who nominated the Alexander Ranch for the award. “The Alexanders’ management efforts created a heterogeneous grassland that benefits livestock and a diverse group of wildlife species.”
The ranch covers more than 7,000 acres and has flourished as a custom grazing operation for the past 27 years. Partnering with several agencies, the Alexanders have leveraged resources to optimize the land’s environmental capabilities. As a result of these partnerships, the ranch operates on a rotational grazing system with three grazing cells, each split into many smaller paddocks. This number of paddocks allows 40-45 days post-grazing recovery time for the grass in each paddock.
Additionally, a cooperative effort with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and KDWP was key to many of the accomplishments on the ranch, which is home to many wildlife and aquatic species considered at-risk or in need of conservation. This partnership helped the Alexanders interseed forbs on old cropland acres previously converted to native grass, enhance water developments, restore riparian areas, and expand the grazing system. The Alexander Ranch has also entered into a “Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances” with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. This voluntary agreement guarantees to address the conservation needs of a species before they become listed as endangered or threatened by specifying actions that will remove or reduce threats to the species.
These stewardship practices have drawn many accolades for the Alexander Ranch. In 2001, the Alexanders were presented with the Rancher Wildlife Conservationist of the Year Award from the Kansas Wildlife Federation. In 1987, they received the Excellence in Grazing Management Award from the Society of Range Management and the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts Grasslands Award, and in 2007, they were awarded the Region VI Environmental Stewardship Award from the National Cattleman’s Beef Association.
“Any number of landowners could have won the state habitat conservation award based solely on habitat enhancements and other stewardship accomplishments on their ranches,” said Berens. “However, it’s the off-the-ranch activities that make the Alexanders stand out. One of the most notable is their willingness to share what they have learned throughout the years with other ranchers, either through one-on-one mentoring or through one of the many conservation organizations to which Ted and Brian belong or serve on the boards. Additionally, they have opened their ranch to many training opportunities for public, state, and federal agency staff and have allowed many university students to conduct wildlife research, including the interaction of wildlife and grazing practices.
“The Alexander Ranch is a great example of how excellent ecosystem management can benefit both the producer and Kansas wildlife,” Berens continued. “Congratulations and many thanks to the Alexander Ranch for their contributions to promoting wise working-land practices in Kansas.”

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