Operating a cattle operation in harmony with the environment has earned a southern Alberta rancher the Alberta Beef Producers' (ABP) highest award for stewardship. Edith Wearmouth of the Wine Glass Ranch is the recipient of the 2004 ABP Environmental Stewardship Award (ESA).
Four generations of the family have operated the Wine Glass Ranch since it was first established in 1885. The ranch now supports 200 cow/calf pairs on 3,100 acres in the picturesque foothills south of Cochrane.
The Wine Glass Ranch includes portions of the Jumping Pound Creek. This important waterway flows into the Bow River and is essential not only to cattle production, but also to fish and other species dependent on the riparian area. Consequently, water management has played an key role on the ranch.
Wearmouth has undertaken a number of initiatives to manage cattle access to the creek. She has developed portable and permanent electric fencing to better control when and how cattle utilize the riparian areas adjacent to the creek. This has resulted in increased willow and cottonwood growth along the creek providing important habitat for a number of species. She has also developed water wells allowing for improved grazing distribution across the ranch.
Managing the grass stand is also a priority on the Wine Glass Ranch. Wearmouth carefully controls grazing duration and intensity to preserve the native range on the ranch. Ample carryover is maintained to ensure the health of the grass stand even in times of drought.
Wearmouth has been eager both to improve her management practices and to share what she has learned with others.
Working with groups such as Trout Unlimited Canada and the Riparian Habitat Management Program (known as Cows and Fish), has allowed Wearmouth to better manage the riparian areas on the ranch. As a result, she has often hosted tours of cattle producers, school children or others interested in her riparian activities and successes. Wearmouth is one of several cattle producers who have recently formed the Ranchers of the Jumping Pound Watershed Group working in the community to improve awareness of beneficial management practices.
The ABP is proud to present the 2004 Environmental Stewardship Award to Edith Wearmouth. Representatives from conservation and agriculture formed the judging committee. The judges examined the stewardship goals and activities of the nominees including accomplishments in land management, water quality, wildlife, animal welfare and leadership activities in the community.
The ABP is now accepting nominations for the 2005 ESA. All cattle producers are encouraged to either enter or nominate another producer who qualifies. Deadline for nominations is July 1, 2004. Nomination forms are available from the ABP office at (403) 275-4400.