Year Inducted: 2010
Nominated by Colorado Cattlemen’s Association
Mesa De Maya Ranch, owned by the Doherty family of Branson, Colo., is 2010 regional Environmental Stewardship Award winner. Representing Region V* of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the Doherty's were recognized at a reception 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 receive the national award at the cattle industry’s winter convention in February 2011.
John and Carolyn Doherty own and manage the ranch, along with son Joe, his wife Lisa and their sons, who make the fifth generation to live on Mesa de Maya. The ranch has a long history of visionary land stewardship. John Doherty's mother, "Tiny" Doherty, was one of the first individuals to enroll in the Soil Conservation Service's Great Plains Conservation Program. Under this contract, the ranch began a variety of stewardship practices, such as pitting pastures for water retention, cross fencing and using windmills to distribute water.
Today, the Doherty's run a 500-head Red Angus commercial cow-calf operation on some 48,000 acres of short grass prairie, elevated mesas and twisting red canyons. While cattle are the core business, the Doherty's make managing the land’s natural native forages a top priority. Water is another ongoing resource issue, in an area that receives only 9 to 14 inches of rain a year.
"I've seldom met a family more dedicated to outstanding stewardship on their property and to helping other cattlemen achieve a better environment in which to live and produce profitable livestock," said Tim Steffens, USDA-NRCS rangeland management specialist, who supported the Doherty's ESAP nomination.
"We often hear the buzz words 'sustainable agriculture' but this isn't a new term for the Doherty's -- they share their passion for the land with their grandsons and the entire community," added Tim Canterbury, president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, which nominated the Doherty's for the ESAP award.
In its nomination submission, the CCA noted just a few of the ranch's stewardship practices:
In addition to numerous long-standing partnerships with conservation groups and agencies, John Doherty served for 40 years on the board of the Branson/Trinchera Soil Conservation District. In 2009, the family received the Leopold Conservation Award for lifetime achievement in conservation and land stewardship, presented by the Sand County Foundation, the CCA, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agriculture Land Trust, Cncana Oil and Gas (USA) Inc. and the NRCS.