Rick and Marlis Doud’s ranch, near Midland, is comprised of 6,000 deeded acres and 2,500 leased acres on which they run nearly 400 cow-calf pairs.
They made a significant switch in their management technique when they transitioned to rotational grazing and a summer calving program at the beginning of the decade, which the Douds credit as the catalyst for tremendous improvement in the productivity and diversity of the grasses in their rotated pastures even in the face of severe drought. The family has installed cross-fencing, more than 15 miles of water pipeline and 20 water tanks. Rick and Marlis have also planted three shelterbelts to catch snow for runoff and provide nesting cover for wildlife. Their land and water management techniques have led to an abundance of wildlife, including whitetail deer, antelope, turkeys, grouse, ducks, geese, and pheasants, which is managed through a hunting program.
The Douds believe in community involvement and lifelong learning. Rick has served on the West River Lyman Jones Rural Water Board for 15 years where he tackles community water issues. Rick has attended numerous ranch tours and workshops hosted by organizations such as NRCS and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition. Perhaps most importantly, the Douds hope their commitment to conservation will cultivate a passion for responsible land management in future generations. They regularly pass along their knowledge to their three children, two of whom own cows on the ranch. Rick also serves as a mentor to young ranchers who have an interest in summer calving and rotational grazing.
“Rick and Marlis Doud epitomize what it means to be a good neighbor, caring community member, and good steward,” wrote Justin Jessop in his letter of recommendation. “They truly are devoted to leaving not only their land – but also their entire community – better because they were a part of it.”