FORT WORTH, Texas — Birdwell and Clark Ranch of Henrietta, Texas was named the 2017 winner of the prestigious Outstanding Rangeland Steward Award for its dedication to protecting Texas’ vast natural resources. The award was conferred today to owners Emry Birdwell and Deborah Clark, at the 2018 Cattle Raisers Convention and Expo in Fort Worth, Texas on behalf of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) and the Texas Section of the Society for Range Management. Clayton Henry, chair of TSCRA’s Natural Resources and Wildlife Committee announced the award.
“Emry and Deborah are tremendous examples of land stewards,” said Henry. “Together they have faced the challenges of ranching and have combined their different sets of personal skills and knowledge to develop creative solutions to those challenges.”
Birdwell and Clark purchased the ranch in 2003. It is home to a stocker cattle operation that runs an average of 5,000 head per year in a time-managed, one-herd grazing program through approximately 340 paddocks on 14,000-plus acres of rolling North Texas tallgrass prairie. While the ranch sustains vigorous wildlife populations of upland game birds and white-tailed deer, the cattle operation completely funds the ranching expenses.
Since it’s founding, the Birdwell and Clark Ranch has become a showcase for conservation. Their underlying goal is to improve the prairie on which they ranch. Thanks to their holistic approach to managing their stocker cattle, they produce twice the county average in pounds of beef per acre, with limited labor and input costs.
One example of the creative solutions developed by Birdwell and Clark is their mobile watering system. During the 2011 drought, they struggled to supply water to their various pastures. Birdwell solved this problem by creating a mobile watering trough. He split an old propane tank lengthwise, put it on wheels and installed intake and outflow connectors so it could be hooked into a water pipeline. This mobile water source followed the livestock where permanent water was not available. This unique re-use of old equipment is a tool to get water to the livestock and to increase grazing distribution in the paddocks.
“We are honored to receive this award and hope it will encourage others to follow in our footsteps,” said Clark. “Ranchers rely on their land to make a living, which compels us to be the best stewards possible and ensure our future generations have the same opportunity that was bestowed on us by our predecessors.”