Year Inducted: 2015
Ft. Pierce, Florida
The Carlton family, owners of Florida’s Bull Hammock Ranch, was selected as one of seven regional honorees of the Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP). The award, announced during the 2015 Cattle Industry Summer Conference, recognizes the outstanding stewardship practices employed on the ranch. This year’s regional winners will compete for the national award, which will be announced during the 25th anniversary celebration in January 2016.
ESAP is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation, and is presented to farmers and ranchers who demonstrate a commitment to protecting the farm and ranch land in their care.
“Bull Hammock Ranch and the other Carlton Family (Ru-Mar) Ranches are commercial cow-calf operations. They have an outstanding record for their environmental stewardship practices, water quality programs and management of exotic and invasive plants on their property,” said Jim Handley, executive vice president of Florida Cattlemen’s Association. “They have also proven to be pioneers in the conservation of water resources through their water movement, storage, and water farming practices.”
Bull Hammock Ranch has been owned and operated by the Carlton family since 1947. The ranch is a 7,500 acre cow-calf operation located in Martin County, Fla. Over the years, conservation practices have played an increasingly important role in agricultural operations. Wes Carlton and his sister, Mary Anne Cruse, along with other members of the Carlton family and a team of employees operate Bull Hammock Ranch and recognize the importance of environmental stewardship and conservation practices.
“We have very, very good land. It’s very rich soil, probably some of the better soil in the state of Florida,” said Wes Carlton. “That provides us the opportunity to have really, really good grazing year-round. Number one, we’re a grass farmer and that’s what we do first is grow grass or grow forage for our cows.”
Bull Hammock Ranch has worked with agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the South Florida Water Management District to make the ranch a showcase for water storage and environmental stewardship. The ranch currently contains a water farming area, located in a former citrus grove, which stores and treats excess water. The water farming area can treat and store approximately 240 acre feet of water, which is critical to the long-term sustainability of local water resources benefiting nearby urban areas and the fragile ecosystems found along the coast.
“Storing water provides habitat for the animals that have been displaced because of the urban development,” said Carlton. “The wading birds, deer, and other wildlife have habitat here on the ranch which provides the animals with a home after being displaced by the development around us.”