Since 1995, the Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA) has been presented annually to innovative cattle producers that have realized the value of implementing environmentally and economically sustainable cattle production on their operations. The 2019 TESA sponsored by Ducks Unlimited Canada, MNP and the SK Stock Growers was presented to Willow Creek Ranch of Consul, SK at the SSGA 106th AGM in Moose Jaw.
Willow Creek Ranch is located on the eastern edge of the Wild Horse Plain in SW Saskatchewan and is owned and operated by Randy and Terry Stokke. They operate on 14,000 acres, 90% of which is native prairie and Willow Creek Ranch has been in the family for three generations.
They have made improvements over the years to improve their grass management and develop an extensive rotational grazing system. These improvements include new water sources and cross-fencing to improve distribution and change their grazing rotation over the years to make better use of their grass. They credit most of their success to an interest in local grassland management, and learning how to manage their grass properly.
The range is managed in a way that creates a mosaic of slowly shifting habitat that benefit a variety of species, co-existing together. Willow Creek Ranch provides habitat for over 50 bird species, as well as dozen federal species at risk and provincially rare species.
In addition to their conservation efforts on the ranch, they have also put in tremendous effort to raise awareness of how traditional, extensive ranching operations can provide ecosystem services for the public good. The ranch provides a model example of sustainable livestock operations that enable them to credibly promote their industry as a solution for maintaining grassland ecosystems and their biodiversity.