First cousins Karl and Raymond Heaton own and operate the Heaton Ranch. The cattle ranch’s more than 140,000 acres of private and federal land supports abundant wildlife populations of sage grouse and mule deer herd.
The Heatons believe that natural resources conservation is critical to the success of their ranching business. They utilize conservation practices to improve grassland, water quality, and wildlife habitat.
Improvements to water quality and delivery include creating and restoring more than 50 stock ponds, improving an irrigation system, and developing a spring through the installation of a solar pump.
Heaton Livestock Company
Grassland has improved since the Heatons adopted rotational grazing in the 1980s. After clearing about 5,000 acres of trees and brush they seeded the area with forbs and grasses that are beneficial to mule deer and sage grouse. Karl and Raymond use a combination of prescribed burning and chemical treatments to maintain the health of these areas.
When faced with a mule deer depredation problem, the Heatons organized other landowners, with similar issues, into an association to tackle the problem. Since then, mule deer have become an asset to the ranch.
The Heatons have diversified their ranch by running an outfitting business and offering cattle drive vacations where tourists participate in a cattle drive, moving livestock from the summer to the winter range.
Karl and Raymond have an impressive legacy of outreach and service inside and outside of the agricultural community.
“When it comes to conserving the natural resource base in our area, they not only talk conservation, they walk conservation,” said Tyce B. Palmer. “For the Heatons, conservation doesn’t cost, it pays!”