The Ranch is teeming with wildlife, from whitetail, mule deer, elk, pronghorn, moose, and a wide variety of birds of prey, including bald and golden eagles. The vibrancy of these populations is a clear indicator for the health of the greater ecosystem. We work with local Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) personnel to monitor the health of these populations and collect data on the many species that use the land as prime habitat.
While cattle are synonymous with a ranch, and in our name, it's really soil heath we are managing. Under our own feet and the hooves of our cattle and horses lies immense complexity. Soil carbon is a strong proxy for soil health, and we can measure it, making it a valuable tool for long-term landscape management. We also measure bacteria, fungi, nutrients, and minerals, working to influence their balance in a beneficial way.
By planning, monitoring, and managing for soil health, we work with nature's soil biology, promote plant biodiversity, and extend plants' growing seasons. By promoting soil health, more plant life grows, providing more forage for both domestic and wild animals. More plant material becomes available to cover the soil's surface, which reduces water and wind erosion and insulates the soil from extreme cold and heat.
The phrase “grazing in sync with nature” is more than a platitude for the Ranch; it’s imperative, and nature is our mentor.
Looking through a regenerative lens, we understand that livestock must be managed in a way that returns the symbiotic benefits that massive herds of bison, elk, and other ruminants had with soil and ecosystems before human settlement.
In the Ranch’s semi-arid, brittle ecosystem, the addition of livestock is necessary. Properly managed livestock are the proxies for the ancient and massive herds of ruminants, functioning as mobile composters, cycling lignin and cellulose into fertilizer for the soil, its microorganisms, and plants.
The Matador Ranch and FWP worked to improve two miles of riparian area along the Middle and West creeks. Together, we successfully returned these sections to their historical channel and installed fish passage access to allow travel and keep water in the main channel instead of flowing into irrigation ditches.
Matador Ranch and Cattle utilizes a Block Management Program in coordination with Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, as a tool for managing the elk population on the Ranch. The program is a cooperative and voluntary initiative between private landowners and Fish, Wildlife, & Parks that provides the public free access to private land during a set timeframe of the hunting season. Typically, the designated land lies adjacent to or provides access to isolated public land. Hunters are required to sign in prior to each day of access. In the 2022 hunting season, the Beaverhead division enrolled approximately 44,000 acres in the program, and access was allowed from September 1st through December 1st.