Learn About the Health of Range Lands


August 14, 2019

Ranchers, Land Experts Gather to Discuss and Learn About the Health of Range Lands

  • Land owners, ranchers, and leading experts available to discuss land health and regenerative ranching

  • Participants will be working on the land, assessing its health and building erosion control structures

  • Setting is a beautiful high-elevation cattle and guest ranch

Salida, Colorado - There will be a media availability with land owners, ranchers, and leading experts on land health and regenerative ranching on August 16 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and August 17 (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at a Land Health Workshop at Badger Creek Ranch near Salida, Colorado. Workshop participants will be promoting policies, and demonstrating and learning practices, that improve the health and prosperity of working lands in the Rocky Mountain West, including its landscapes, watersheds, and native species.

The workshop will be at Badger Creek Ranch, 5795 County Road 2, Cañon City, CO 81212, located 50 miles west of Cañon City and 20 miles northeast of Salida. (See below for driving directions.) Please contact Natalie Allio (719-837-2962, natalie.allio@gmail.com) to make arrangements to arrive at the ranch, and interview participants or cover the Land Health Workshop events.

The workshop is organized by the Quivira Coalition in partnership with Badger Creek Ranch, the Central Colorado Conservancy, National Grazing Lands Coalition, Colorado Section Society for Range Management, Upper Arkansas Conservation District, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, and the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies.

Badger Creek Ranch is a cattle and guest ranch located at 9,000 feet elevation in the southwest corner of the South Park mountain basin, and is a Holistic Management Learning Site. It is located on Badger Creek, a tributary of the Arkansas River that flows through the ranch between the Arkansas Hills and Black Mountain. The ranch borders the San Isabel National Forest and Pike National Forest, offering sweeping views across South Park to the Collegiate Peaks, the Sangre De Cristo Mountains, and the Mosquito Range.

Ann Adams, executive director of Holistic Management International, notes that these types of regenerative agriculture workshops provide critical local opportunities for producers who are interested in changing agricultural practices due to the greater pressure that climate change exerts on agricultural operations. At the same time, there is a growing demand for regeneratively-raised food that is creating new markets for agricultural producers who often struggle to make a profit in a commodity market.

“More consumers are purchasing food grown with regenerative practices,” Adams said. “A recent study found that more than 80 percent of Americans have organic food in their refrigerator. In addition, many of the environmental challenges we face—excess carbon in the atmosphere, desertification, and loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity—can be mitigated with regenerative agricultural practices. For example, one study showed that cattle managed regeneratively increased soil carbon by 1,600 pounds per acre.”

The workshop offers an opportunity to learn about how the health of the Badger Creek watershed, which covers 211 square miles of the southwest portion of South Park, has a significant impact on downstream Front Range communities including Cañon City and Pueblo. More than a century of open range grazing and erosion have caused a loss of cover vegetation and wetland and river habitat, a lowered water table, disruption of the protective sod layer, and the introduction of invasive species and weeds. In a normal year, 39,600 tons of sediment erodes into the creek.

Intense thunderstorms that normally occur once or twice a summer cause flooding that can cause a spike in runoff from the normal summertime flow of five cubic feet per second to more than 1,000 cubic feet per second. A record-setting flood in the summer of 1979 reached almost 10,000 cubic feet per second, sending a sediment plume into the Arkansas River that flowed downstream for more than 50 miles. That flow from Badger Creek was more than the Arkansas River’s typical flood stage of almost 7,000 cubic feet per second, and topped Salida’s record flood stage of 9,220 cubic feet per second.

“We’ll examine local soil profiles including soil texture, infiltration rates, moisture retention, and runoff that can affect the health of rangeland plants and channel flow before reviewing how land management, such as grazing, road development, and fire, can lead to erosion processes,” said Aaron Kauffman, founder of Southwest Urban Hydrology. “This will be followed by building structures aimed at addressing common erosion features on a disturbed landscape.”

Workshop schedule:

From 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday workshop participants will be analyzing the health of the vegetation and soils in the Badger Creek drainage with Kirk Gadzia, founder of Resource Management Services and Holistic Management® Certified Educator.

Kirk Gadzia will be providing information about comprehensive grazing planning from 1 to 5 p.m. on Friday. Brief presentations will also be made by the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies and the Colorado Section Society for Range Management.

From 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aaron Kauffman, of Southwest Urban Hydrology, will work with participants to build soil conservation and erosion control structures in the Badger Creek drainage, while teaching how to read the landscape to better understand surface water flow and the erosion process. He can show how similar erosion structures built last year at this location are helping to stabilize the soil.

Participant Bios:

Ann Adams is the executive director of Holistic Management International (Albuquerque, NM). She owns a small farm in the Manzano Mountains, southeast of Albuquerque, New Mexico where she raises goats and chickens. She regularly teaches classes and offers consulting in Holistic Management for family farms and ranches with a particular focus on goal setting facilitation and financial planning and small acreage grazing. She has been a Certified Educator for Holistic Management International since 1998 and has written countless articles, helped develop agriculture-based software for financial and grazing planning, and written a training handbook, At Home with Holistic Management: Creating a Life of Meaning. She is trained as a mediator for the Albuquerque Metropolitan Court System, and has experience with other conflict resolution processes that she brings to her facilitations. Contact: (505-842-5252, ext. 105, anna@holisticmanagement.org.

Natalie Allio is one of the managers of Badger Creek Ranch, an HMI Learning Site (https://holisticmanagement.org/hmi-learning-sites/) and a New Agrarian Mentor Site for the Quivira Coalition (https://quiviracoalition.org/newagrarian/#about). She also does community outreach, education, and marketing for the ranch. She holds a Master’s degree in ecopsychology and a certificate in Collaborative Solutions in Natural Resources, has completed Holistic Management International’s training in Whole Ranch/Farm Planning and Whole Ranch/Farm Land Management, and is on track to become a certified HMI educator.

Natalie is on the board of the Upper Arkansas Conservation District and works on conservation and agricultural projects including development of Working Lands Helping Hands, a program that connects local agricultural producers to resources available from governments, universities, and nonprofit organizations, such as engineering, legal support, accounting, learning opportunities, scholarships, and internships. She is a certified life and business coach, and has an undergraduate degree in leadership and management. Contact: 719-837-2962, natalie.allio@gmail.com.

Kirk Gadzia is founder of Resource Management Services (Bernalillo, NM), a consulting, training and monitoring organization for private and professional resource managers, helping producers achieve profitability, and providing training and consulting to a wide variety of conservation organizations. He is a Certified Educator with Holistic Management International, and has more than 25 years experience teaching the concepts of Holistic Management worldwide. He is co-author of the National Academy of Sciences book Rangeland Health. He holds a BS degree in Wildlife Biology and an MS in Range Science. Contact: 505-263-8677, kirk@rmsgadzia.com.

Aaron Kauffman is the founder of Southwest Urban Hydrology (Santa Fe, NM). He works on urban watershed issues such as polluted runoff, urban heat island effect, and channel degradation from flooding. Aaron has more than 15 years experience analyzing and implementing simple and pragmatic solutions to localized environmental degradation, and has a broad background in watershed management including reforestation projects in the Dominican Republic, monitoring and evaluation of pre- and post-fire erosion rates in oak savanna and ponderosa pine environments, and stream restoration in Arizona and New Mexico. He has developed and taught community workshops and courses including a Watershed Management class as part of the Sustainable Technologies program at the Santa Fe Community College. Aaron has a bachelor’s degree in Ecological Studies and a master’s degree in hydrology and management. Contact: 505-401-6095, aaron@southwesturbanhydrology.com.

Arielle Quintana is the education and outreach coordinator for the Quivira Coalition (Santa Fe, NM) where she does natural resource conservation education and engages young people with nature. Arielle is a tribal member from Cochiti Pueblo where she was raised to be a steward of the land and preserve the strong ties between people and nature. She worked on the tribe’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation on riparian restoration and wildlife habitat improvement projects. She has also worked for the Southern Rockies Fire Science Network on fire science conferences and workshops, and the Santa Fe Botanical Garden on garden education and wetland restoration, where she continues to be an environmental educator. She has a bachelor’s degree in Rangeland Ecology. Contact: arielle@quiviracoalition.org, O: 505-820-2544, C: 505-206-4515.