2019

Castle Mountain Ranch
Ed and David Fryer

With a change of management in January 1998, came a renewed commitment to conservation on Castle Mountain Ranch. Over twenty years ago, Ed Fryer along with his wife Bev and two sons moved to Castle Mountain Ranch and began making their mark on the landscape.
This renewed commitment to the ranch resources has led to revised cattle handling practices, twenty five water development projects, increased pasture production – tripling the grass availability in some areas, and countless other improvement projects that benefit the land, livestock and environment.

2018

Hahn Ranch
Dusty and Chuck Hahn

This enduring focus on conservation, collaboration and environmental stewardship has ushered in the fourth generation of the Hahn family on their Townsend, Montana ranch. They’re leaders in collaborative water conservation efforts that have made their irrigation use more efficient while enhancing fisheries, stream flow and connectivity for downstream users.

Their livestock graze on private and public land to feed the world, enhance wildlife habitat and preserve open spaces in perpetuity. The farmland grows both cash crops and forage crops in no-till systems to extend their grazing season, allow for longer rest periods on the rangeland and increase soil biodiversity and organic matter.

2017

Two Creek Ranch
Wayne and Karalee Slaght

At the Two Creek Ranch, Wayne and Karalee Slaght manage about 21,000 owned or leased acres and 900 commercial pairs on the southern edge of the complex and greatly celebrated Crown of the Continent ecosystem.

Managing a landscape full of endangered or threatened species – including grizzly bears, wolves and bull trout – plus abundant elk, deer, Sandhill cranes, turkeys and trumpeter swans, requires planning, innovation and a lot of collaboration in order to stay in business and balance a healthy ecosystem. Wayne has been a leader in the industry in preventative predator management, setting the tone for how constructive, collaborative efforts can benefit the ranching community when we work cooperatively with state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations for common stewardship goals.

They’ve been able to grow the cattle herd over the years by not only making their deeded land more productive with cross-fencing, noxious weed control and focused timber management, but by fostering relationships that have led to new and continued leased grazing opportunities on neighboring state and federal lands. They work to improve owned and leased land alike with strategic rotational grazing, water development and riparian restoration projects.

2016

Cherry Creek Ranch
Lon and Vicki Reukauf

Persevering in the harsh ranching climate of eastern Montana can build character, that’s for sure, Lon Reukauf jokes. But lessons of the land often run on repeat, so a well-read history book can point to opportunities to learn, grow, conserve and preserve a sustainable future. Fortunately, the Cherry Creek Ranch in Terry, Montana has a well-read history to help build the future. When Lon Reukauf’s grandparents homesteaded the area along Cherry Creek in 1910, there was a new pioneer home every half-mile along the dusty trail. Families were eager to try their hand at eking out a living with the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909. While 160 acres in the vast, dry land of eastern Montana could not sustain a family, this act allowed for 320 acre settlements.