Leopold Conservation Award Program - Wyoming 2015

Wyoming 2015 King Ranch Cheyenne, WY Leopold Conservation Award Recipient

The century-old King Ranch sits just outside of Cheyenne. After the passing of one of the ranch owners, the ranch management was left in the hands of Mark Eisele, who has worked on the ranch since the 1970s. Today, Mark, along with his wife Trudy and their family, proudly carry on the ranching tradition at King Ranch.

The Eiseles run three herds of primarily red and black Angus, and manage a portion of the land as alfalfa and native grass hay fields.

Dedicated to business and environmental sustainability, the Eiseles converted to low-pressure pivot irrigation, which reduced water costs by 60% and consumption by 25%. The Eiseles use solar and electric submersible pumps in their windmills to reduce, and in some cases eliminate, their need to haul water around the ranch.

The ranch partially depends on grazing access near the Medicine Bow National Forest, a popular destination for tourists. Its close proximity to an urban area makes King Ranch rather unique compared to more rural ranches. As a result, the Eiseles must balance the park’s and city’s needs, as well as their own.

King Ranch

The Eiseles work closely with the US Forest Service so recreation and ranching in and near the park can co-exist. Mark constructed gates and fences along trails so bicyclists can enjoy riding through the idyllic pastures. The ranch also includes land designated as suitable habitat for two threatened species – the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse and the Colorado butterfly plant. To help improve their habitat, ranch management practices are regularly reviewed with wildlife in mind.

Mark’s commitment to conservation is exemplified by his willingness to host research projects and students on the ranch. He recently volunteered a portion of his land for a trial experiment to use sludge from a water treatment plant as a soil amendment, and he enjoys educating children about the value of ranching and conservation.

“Mark is one of the most progressive ranchers in the state and region, always having a creative eye on the future but with his feet dependably planted on the ground of the present,” said Tom Farrell, Laramie County Conservation District. “ His love and care for the land is always foremost in the decisions he makes.”

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