Ron and Linda Heward’s 7E Ranch, which celebrated 100 years in 2009, is a sixth generation cattle and sheep operation located in northeastern Carbon County in the heart of the Shirley Basin Grasslands. The Hewards have always taken a “family first” approach when it comes to their agricultural operation. Ron and Linda believe that the primary purpose of their ranch was to raise their 6 children, as well as their 13 grandchildren, all of whom currently assist them with the ranch.
7E Ranch has been home to several innovative practices, especially in water and rangeland management. One of the first efforts on the ranch was the creation of an irrigation system, which allows for 265 acres of native grass hay meadows to be irrigated by the Little Medicine River through a network of dirt ditches. This has allowed for a year-round operation, utilizing early spring and late fall runoffs. Other water initiatives include pipeline systems and reservoir and spring developments to better facilitate upland use. Rangeland management practices include, among other efforts, rotational grazing and diversification of livestock breeds, which work to enhance rangeland health and vigor, even in the face of persistent drought.
Ron and Linda also emphasize outreach. The Hewards welcome numerous visitors to 7E and see this as an opportunity to educate the public about sustainable agriculture. Ron and Linda also collaborate with various private organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy, and public agencies, such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), to evaluate resource concerns and proactively manage the ranch. Ron is a member of many agricultural and community groups and was named “Landowner of the Year” in 2006 for wildlife stewardship by Wyoming Game and Fish. “Their desire to maintain the landscape and continue a successful operation, while continuing a tradition of family is hard to find in today’s society,” wrote Marji Patz, District Conservationist, NRCS, in her nomination letter. “'Heward' is a name that captures what family and ranching is about.”