Visintainer Sheep Co.
By: Leopold Conservation Award Program
A deep passion for the land entrusted to them, and a willingness to embrace and adapt to change, has kept the Visintainers at the forefront of innovative ranch management.
Dean Visintainer and his son Gary jointly run the Visintainer Sheep Co., where concern for the land has always been essential to their management.Decades of monitoring and observation, coupled with their move from production-based management to “forage-based” management to improve range health, has led to diversification of livestock to both sheep and cattle, while maintaining an emphasis on wildlife.Species including deer, elk, pronghorn, greater sage grouse, and Columbian sharp-tailed grouse are found on their land. Today, their ranch is a true refuge for wildlife.
After a catastrophic wildfire in the fall of 2010, the Visintainers partnered with the Natural Resources Conservation Services’ Sage Grouse Initiative, in conjunction with the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the US Fish and Wildlife Service - Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, to restore and rehabilitate lost sage-grouse habitat and rangelands.
The Visintainers are lauded by Colorado conservationists as “true pioneers” as they help pave the way for fellow ranchers and land managers who continue to learn from their experience.“Many partners in conservation, neighboring landowners, and resource professionals have learned from the Visintainers’ observations and management techniques across their range, and have adapted those ideas elsewhere throughout Colorado,” said NRCS Private Lands Wildlife Biologist, Brandon Miller, in his nomination of the Visintainer Sheep Co.