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Riparian work earns TESA award for B.C ranchers

Riparian management and wetland protection work by a family of B.C. ranchers has earned them the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s top award for stewardship.

The Madley family, which operates Canyon Ranch just west of Alexis Creek, about 335 km south of Prince George, was named the winner of the CCA’s annual TESA award during the association’s recent convention in Regina.

TESA, or The Environmental Stewardship Award, is presented annually “to a cattle producer who goes above and beyond standard industry conservation practices, setting a positive example for fellow producers and the general public.”

Brooke and Bev Madley accepted the award on behalf of “the five generations that have worked, and continue to work at the Canyon Ranch,” the CCA said in a release Monday.

The Madleys, who raise Hereford-Angus-cross cattle on their property and Crown rangeland at the confluence of Alexis Creek and the Chilcotin River, have undertaken “extensive environmental modifications,” the CCA said.

Both waterways are “very important for waterfowl and fish habitat,” the CCA noted, adding that the Chilcotin is known for its spring and sockeye salmon, steelhead, rainbow and bull trout and is a major staging area for Canada geese. 

Those include a buffer zone along the creek, placing barnyard holding pens at a substantial setback, plus installing “extensive” fencing and water troughs.

For example, side channels and groundwater springs of the Chilcotin River are also fenced to protect habitat for salmon fingerlings, the CCA noted.

Range riding

For “natural restoration” of nutrients to the soil, the family also puts “careful thought” into rotating their herd over the winter, the CCA said.

To protect the Avon Creek on Crown range, the Madleys installed a water crossing with support from the B.C. Grazing Enhancement Fund.

Also, to minimize impact on wetlands, their livestock graze on the lower wetland range only in late August. Ducks Unlimited Canada has an active stewardship project on the Madleys’ Crown range, the CCA noted.

The Madleys also improved forage quality and increased livestock production, through “extensive” range riding to rotate cattle among the Crown range-management units, the CCA said.

Other TESA nominees for 2009 included Alberta’s OH Ranch, run by the Seaman family; Saskatchewan’s Simonson Farms Ltd.; Manitoba’s Guilford Hereford Ranch; and Ontario’s Pine River Ranch, run by the Brielmann family.

“Each nominee shows significant dedication to environmental stewardship,” CCA environment committee chair Lynn Grant, a Saskatchewan rancher, said in the association’s release.

“They demonstrate that implementing sustainable practices improves all aspects of the environment for current and future inhabitants.”

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