G Bar C Ranch, a cattle ranch in North Texas, is the national winner of the 2023 Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP), presented annually by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The ranch is recognized for its exemplary stewardship practices and conservation achievements.

Located north of Dallas, G Bar C Ranch continues to improve ranching practices to nurture the environment while remaining economically sustainable. The ranch is owned by GC and Mary Ellis and is managed by their daughter, Meredith, and long-time ranch manager, Michael Knabe. Meredith’s son – the third generation – is also involved. The Ellis family see themselves as caretakers of the land, maintaining biodiversity, natural habitat, and clean waterways.

The ranch preserves more than 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) of diverse habitat and supports more than 660 cataloged species of plants, animals, birds, mosses, lichens, and other ecological communities.

It implements an adaptive multi-paddock strategy that rotates cattle through 58 permanently fenced pastures to mimic the natural process of how bison used to migrate across the United States.

“Every day, we are in the pasture monitoring what our cattle are grazing. We are making sure that there is a balance between the cattle getting a benefit and the land benefitting. It is because of cattle that our national grazing lands are as abundant and full of life as they are.”

Wheat Creek runs through the ranch and eventually feeds into the Trinity River, which provides half of Texans’ water needs. The Ellis family grazes their cattle in a manner that keeps the vegetative filters and sponges working effectively and prevents erosion, keeping water clear and pure.

Storing carbon in the ground is another critical goal for G Bar C Ranch, which it achieves by minimizing soil disturbance. One study found that the ranch is sequestering 2,500 tons of CO2 – equivalent to taking 551 cars off the road every year.

“We are dedicated to raising the highest quality cattle while putting the environment first,” said Meredith Ellis. “Our stewardship of the land benefits everyone.”

About the Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP)

Established in 1991 by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the ESAP recognizes outstanding land stewards in the cattle industry. It is sponsored by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Corteva Agriscience, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation.

For more information, visit www.environmentalstewardship.org

Photo by NCBA