The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) presented the 2018 Environmental Stewardship Award to Robert and Holly Brooks of Rhame, N.D., during the NDSA’s 89th Annual Convention & Trade Show, “Leading the Way,” in Bismarck, N.D., on Sept. 15.
Nestled between four watersheds in the extreme southwestern corner of North Dakota, the Brooks Ranch strives to be innovative and adaptive to build resilience into their operation and their landscape. The Brooks Ranch focuses on conservations, care, maintenance, and management of the environment as they raise their registered and commercial Angus herd. The Brooks family uses a variety of holistic management concepts.
Brooks Ranch has worked hard to develop water, a precious commodity in their semi-arid region. In addition, to fill dams, the ranch has added solar tanks that pump up to 15 gallons per minute.
The Brooks family was instrumental in the Sage Grouse Initiative, a national effort to proactively conserve sage grouse and their habitat in 11 western states to keep the bird off the threatened and endangered species lists. They worked to improve sage-grouse habitat through a variety of plantings.
They likewise embraced the pollinator movement long before it became popular. They use the same protocol for pollinators as they do for their cattle, always staying off the grass until it is at least in the three-leaf stage.
The Brooks family has a diversified operation that also includes meat goats, Icelandic sheep, chicken, geese, turkeys, guineas and a small heard of Shorthorn cows used as milkmaids.
“Across this great state, cattlemen and cattlewomen alike are committed to the care of the land, air, and water resources and they take their responsibilities seriously, ” said NDSA president Dan Rorvig, a rancher from McWille, N.D. “On behalf of the Stockmen’s Association, I want to congratulate the Brooks Ranch on this special achievement.”
As the state Environmental Stewardship Award winner, the Brooks Ranch will next compete on a regional level with state winners from South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. If successful there, they will move onto the national competition.