I was thrilled to spend a week with partner SonRise Grass Creek Ranch assessing the progress of their regenerative grazing operation outside of Thermopolis, Wyoming. The strides made in two short years since taking over more than 800 acres that had been conventionally grazed for 140 years was nothing short of remarkable!
Using only cattle as tools to clear brush, improve riparian habitat, and regenerate soils, you can clearly see in the picture below what happens when we get out of the way and allow nature to flourish.
This photo was taken from the same location two years apart. The top image shows the Grass Creek watershed in 2019 prior to applying regenerative management techniques. Notice the cut in the bank at stream-level, the prevalence of sagebrush as a dominant species, and short, spotty native grasses.
Now look at the bottom image taken last week. The creek is flowing on a wider plane (even with increased flow), the presence of sagebrush has diminished by at least half, and there are multiple, flourishing species of native grasses and shrubs. This is the power of regenerative agriculture in repairing over a century of abusive practices and testimony to the adage, "it's not the cow, it's the how!"
In another example, take a look at the picture below. This is an example of typical rangeland on the SonRise parcel. Heavy sagebrush with low native grasses and a lot of exposed soil. Evidence of conventional rangeland management practiced for over a century.
Now look at the area in the distance inside the yellow square. Two years ago, it looked like everything else in the photo. Now it is a verdant pasture with zero sagebrush and native grasses over 4 feet tall! Oh, I forgot to mention, that area is not irrigated either! The goal is to grow this area to include all the sagebrush in the foreground over the next several years.
I am so proud to be partnered with Doug Lindamood and his family at SonRise Grass Creek Ranch. They are walking the walk of what it means to make a difference in the world, one pasture at a time! I greatly appreciated their hospitality during my stay and being able to integrate in with their four summer interns. Also a big thanks to my trusted steed, Tommy, pictured above, who had to schlep me around the backcountry. He earned his hay and grain that day! :-)
I look forward to making my annual pilgrimage to SonRise next summer and documenting even more progress as Doug and team continue their work. Also, if you happen to be in North Central Wyoming, don't forget to stop by the Ranch and catch a phenomenal meal at their Saturday evening Supper Club. Trust me, it's the best meal you will get in all of Wyoming!