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Habitat Conservation and Restoration

posted on

March 13, 2024

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My conservation dream team: NRCS, CNLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Ecostudies Institute, and Thurston Conservation District

Much of our work at Colvin Ranch involves conservation projects. A conservation mindset is at the heart of our grazing and management plans, and we are deliberate in when and where we graze our animals for the benefit of the native species that call the ranch home. 

But we also undertake a number of habitat restoration and enhancement projects that go above and beyond conservation grazing. A lot of the time, these projects start with me standing in a field or forest, dreaming about what's possible. I'm always wondering - what does this want to be? What can make this the best version of itself?

I've learned from experts like Marty Chaney at NRCS that it all starts with dirt. The soil type determines what will grow and thrive in a particular area, and you can tell when a piece of land isn't doing as well as it could because what's currently there isn't the right fit for the soil type.

There's a section of land behind the ranch that had been native prairie habitat, but was neglected for years. Without any grazing or management, fir trees and Scotch broom had started taking over. 

Another nearby section of prairie soils had been planted with Christmas trees when I was a kid, which had been abandoned and overgrown. When we purchased the property, we saw an opportunity to help this place return to what it was meant to be. So we got rid of the Christmas trees, and with the help of CLNM and U.S. Fish and Wildlife, we planted oak trees in their place. 

Now, we're undertaking a larger project to create a silvopasture environment that will incorporate trees and native prairie species across these two sections of land. Without the help of organizations like Ecostudies Institute, CNLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, NRCS, and the Thurston Conservation District, we wouldn't be able to do these projects. It would be just me, standing in the field, wondering what the best version of this little piece of land could be. 

More from the blog

Field Walk Resources

Whether you're just getting started out with conservation grazing, you're looking to improve what you're already doing, or you just want to learn more, check out these resources for more information.

Silvopasture Field Walk

On Wednesday, June 12 we're offering an opportunity to get out on the back forested section of Colvin Ranch on an evening pasture walk with experts from NRCS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.