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2010 Environmental Stewardship Award Winner

Region IV: JA Ranch

Bowie, Texas


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J.K. “Rooter” Brite Jr. and Family

Nominated by Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and the Texas Section, Society for Range Management

JA Ranch, owned by the J.K. “Rooter” Brite Jr. family of Bowie, Texas, is a 2010 regional Environmental Stewardship Award winner. Representing Region IV* of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Brites were recognized at a reception here last night, during the 2010 Cattle Industry Conference.   
The ESAP award, now in its 20th year, is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences; USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); the National Cattlemen’s Foundation; and NCBA.  One of the seven regional nominees will be selected to receive the national award at the cattle industry’s winter meeting in February 2011. 
Rooter and Lynda Brite, along with son J.K. Brite and his wife Liz, manage the ranch and run a purebred Hereford cow-calf herd, a small group of Angus-sired cows and a stocker operation. Located 75 miles northwest of Fort Worth, the ranch has its share of environmental challenges. Brite’s 3,400 acres get less than 30 inches of rain a year on shallow, rocky soils. The ranch is also in the Trinity River watershed, one of the state’s most important waterways. However, after growing up on the ranch and buying it from his father in 1974, Brite was determined to be the best range manager possible.
He completed Texas Christian University’s ranch management program and became a lifetime devotee of practical, common sense land management practices that suit the unique physical conditions of each geographic area. One size does not fit all, according to Brite.  
“I do things because they work on this land and that’s what makes the difference,” he explained. 
“Mr. Brite has honed his personal rangeland management skills and has built a ranch that is a model for other landowners and a showcase for sustainable management of natural resources,” said Donald Gohmert, an NRCS conservationist who supported the Brite’s ESAP nomination.
The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and the Texas Section, Society of
Range Management, who nominated the JA Ranch, have noted some of its exemplary stewardship practices:
 * JA Ranch has operated with an active conservation plan with the Montague County NRCS since 1964. Practices include prescribed grazing and burning, installation of riparian buffers and pipelines to slow water runoff, and brush control.
     * The Brites work diligently to ensure healthy pastures of native and other grasses to keep runoff clean and allow rainwater to be absorbed back into the aquifer. “Every blade of grass is like a little straw,” Brite explained.
     * Since the 1990s, the ranch has operated under a volunteer, self-imposed water quality management plan. Tests regularly show the water quality exceeds EPA drinking water standards.
  * When ranch stock ponds are renovated, Brite always constructs an island, to encourage the presence of waterfowl. He also allows brush and trees to grow along creeks and streams to create habitat for all types of wildlife. 
Brite has won numerous conservation and range management awards and has been heavily involved as a volunteer board member for many conservation organizations. He has been a director on the Upper Elm Red Soil Water and Conservation District since 1979; serves on NCBA’s Natural Resource and Environment Committee; and represents the National Association of Conservation Districts on the National Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative Steering Committee.
Brite’s ESAP nomination is supported by John Merrill Sr., XXX Ranch Inc., and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board. 
* NCBA’s Region IV includes Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.  

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