Texas 2024 MT7 Ranch Breckenridge Leopold Conservation Award Recipient

Mike and Mary Terry’s passion for conservation, cattle ranching, and the outdoors led them to do something spectacular.

The Terrys invested in a weathered piece of land in 2008. Although the land had been overlooked for decades, they saw an opportunity to revive it to benefit the environment, wildlife, and people. With patience, hard work, expert care, and a mix of traditional and innovative agricultural practices, the landscape began to transform to its natural state and flourish.

After the purchase of 20 adjacent parcels, their MT7 Ranch now encompasses more than 19,300 acres of rolling plains, cropland, wetlands, and rangeland in north central Texas.

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MT7 Ranch’s approach to land stewardship is overseen by longtime ranch manager Ty Bartoskewitz. He employs a variety of habitat, grazing, crop, water retention, and wildlife population management practices.

Wheat, sorghum, and sunflowers are grown on cropland, but most of the ranch is devoted to restoration of rangeland for pastures and wildlife habitat. A prescribed burning schedule coupled with a rotational grazing system for MT7 Ranch’s herd of Red Angus beef cattle encourages the revitalization of native, warm season grasses.

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Thoughtful restoration of wetlands and riparian areas attracts a variety of wood ducks and other migratory waterfowl. More than 3,300 feral pigs have been removed to reduce potential damage to habitat. Such efforts earned MT7 Ranch the Texas Wildlife Association’s Landowner of the Year Award in 2015.

Perhaps most notable has been the creation and maintenance of 55 quail management areas scattered across the ranch. They range in size from 10 to 100 acres and are situated within riparian corridors and ridges where mesquite and other shrubs could not be easily cleared in the past. Each area provides quail with cover and food sources of seeds and insects from a patchwork of disked strips planted annually with a mix of grains and forbs that mature at different times of the year.

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The restoration of habitat for quail and Rio Grande turkeys is among a long list of topics studied at MT7 Ranch.

Watch the inspiring story of MT7 Ranch

Whereas some landowners fear opening their land to others, the Terrys have taken the opposite approach. They use their ranch as an outdoor classroom for other ranchers, local school and civic groups, state and federal conservation agencies and nonprofits, and graduate students conducting research.

Because they want others to learn about sound land management practices, research requests are met with a “yes”. They also want to foster a new generation of young professionals engaged in conservation, natural resources, and ranching.

MT7 Ranch has an active relationship with the local school district. It hosts an annual spring field day for fifth graders, and the ranch’s daily activities are incorporated into the science curriculum. High school students are employed for summer jobs. An internship program was created in 2009 for college students interested in natural resources, ranch management and agribusiness careers. Since then, MT7 Ranch has employed more than 100 interns, several of whom have returned to the ranch after graduation to work full-time.

Mike credits his wife Mary, ranch manager Ty, and his father-in-law, all avid outdoors enthusiasts, with influencing his evolving land ethic. He is thrilled to have youth coming to the ranch to learn about conservation, catch their first fish, or see a cow up close for the first time. His MT7 Ranch shows what’s possible by opening the beauty of rural Texas to the rest of the world.

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