When I bought this ranch it was an absolute desert, but I could see a lot of opportunity here, so it has been my passion to try and make this ranch into a place where all parts of the ecology could live happily ever after. - Chet Vogt
Chet Vogt’s Three Creeks Ranch in Glenn
County is a 5,300 acre 500 cow/calf operation. The core of Chet’s holistic approach to ranching is intensive managed grazing, which rotates the cattle among 32 fenced paddocks. This supports native grasses, healthy cattle, and increased water retention in the soil. Chet has also fenced off riparian corridors and livestock ponds as special management zones that receive short-duration grazing so that native plants can thrive and provide abundant nesting habitat for birds and other wildlife, including, among others, tricolored blackbirds, box turtles, California quail, and black-tail deer.
“Chet Vogt has dedicated himself to innovation in environmentally beneficial ranching practices for three decades,” said A.G. Kawamura, Secretary, California Department of Food & Agriculture and a judge for the Leopold Conservation Award. “He demonstrates the natural compatibility between raising cattle and caring for the land, and he inspires all ranchers and farmers to work from that understanding.”
Chet is widely respected for bridging the gap between cattle ranchers and environmental advocates, forging effective partnerships and cultivating productive, ongoing communication. He frequently hosts workshops and field trips on Three Creeks Ranch to educate ranchers, regulators, and environmental scientists about his practices. He has held numerous community leadership positions and currently serves California Cattlemen’s Association as the Rangeland Improvement Committee Chairman. Chet is actively involved with the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition, which encompasses nearly 100 agricultural, environmental, and government organizations.
“Chet is a quintessential western rancher –stout, serious, and rugged,” wrote Dr. Steve Zack, Wildlife Conservation Society, in his letter of recommendation. “Yet, he is also a leader of new ways to manage the land, and his efforts have inspired me and many others concerned with natural resource management in the western United States.”
Howe Creek Ranch, Steve and Jill Hackett –Ferndale, Calif. (Humboldt County)
Steve and Jill Hackett have taken a proactive approach to integrating ecological sustainability into their 4,000 acres of forests and cattle pasturage, where the family has ranched and produced forest products for 95 years. Their forestry practices create corridors of mature forest and healthy watersheds that support salmon, spotted owls and other wildlife. The Hacketts have permanently protected their land through a conservation easement, ensuring that it will remain working timber and ranchland for generations to come. Steve helped to establish the vision and consensus for the California Rangeland Water Quality Management Plan as a prototype alternative to rangeland regulation. That plan is credited with injecting incentives and cooperation into ranch planning and restoration implementation, and with engaging environmental groups, industry groups and federal and state government agencies effectively. The plan now involves more than 1 million acres of private California ranchland.
Montna Farms, Alfred G. Montna –Yuba City, Calif. (Sutter County)
Rice grower Al Montna has created extensive habitat for wildlife, particularly waterfowl, through his 2,500-acre farming operation. He also led the way in replacing the practice of burning rice stubble with environmentally safe alternatives and reducing pesticide run-off into the Sacramento River by 90%. This year, he installed a solar power system to run the Montna Farms rice dryer. Known for bringing people together, he has held leadership positions in numerous industry organizations and public policy boards, such as Northern California Water Association, California Bay-Delta Authority and State Board of Food and Agriculture.