BLM announces winner of 2011 rangeland stewardship award

Sep 16, 2011
by WLJ

The Bureau of Land Management announced the winner of the agency’s Rangeland Stewardship Award for 2011, which went to Joe Stell, a Carlsbad, NM, rancher who has improved rangeland conditions on his BLM grazing allotment. BLM Assistant Director Ed Roberson presented the award in Park City, UT, at a meeting of the rancher-based Public Lands Council.

Stell, who has run a commercial cow/calf operation since 1964, today implements a deferred-rotation grazing system on his BLM allotment. Deferred-rotation grazing is a planned grazing system in which grazing on one part of the range is deferred during one or more years; then, by rotation, other areas are successively deferred. This allows for desirable seed maturity and young plants are given protection from grazing while they become established.

“In southern New Mexico, the BLM’s hopes for restoring this landscape rested on a partnership of stakeholders and the critical involvement of ranchers,” said Roberson. “That effort would require someone of influence and credibility in the ranching community, someone who would step forward, take a risk, and lead the way. That rancher was Joe Stell.”

Roberson added, “Working with the BLM and other ranchers, Joe tried a new approach to the area to control brush using prescribed fire that helped restore grasslands. And if he hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t be where we are today with our efforts in the Carlsbad area, which involve the restoration of 150,000 to 200,000 acres a year compared to what used to be only a few thousand acres a year.”

The Rangeland Stewardship Award has been presented every year since 2006. — WLJ