Maintaining the legacy of the Black Willow Ranch demands being good stewards of the land, livestock and wildlife. The Black Willow Ranch strategy is rooted in time-honored principles, but allows the flexibility to explore and adapt to progressive ranching practices. By building strong partnerships with all stakeholders including fellow landowners, non-profits, and government agencies the ranch has maintained a high standard of conservation and ranch production. The pillars of the strategy include, natural grazing cycles, multi-species grazing, pasture reclamation, riparian corridor development, and water resource development.
The Black Willow Ranch grazes stocker cattle on native pasture between April and October on a planned grazing system. Typically around 500 head of aged steers are run and average daily gains of over 1.6 pounds are achieved. Conservative stocking levels and pasture rotation allow the ranch to leave plenty of grasses and forage for the elk that reside through the winter.
Over the past 20 years considerable investments have been made in restoration efforts on the Black Willow Ranch. At the heart of the ranch is the 3.5 mile stretch of the Mora River, the ranch together with the Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance have worked to restore this riparian corridor by improving livestock control infrastructure, stabilizing stream banks, and planting native trees and plants. In addition no-till seeding has been utilized to restore upland pastures.
Easy access to water is essential to both cattle and game. The Black Willow Ranch has invested heavily in solar powered stock tanks in upland areas. As well as wildlife friendly fencing around the riparian corridor and other water sources. Both of which have made a considerable impact on cattle production and wildlife health