By: Leopold Conservation Award Program
The Davis family successfully integrates the needs of a successful and productive beef operation with the habitat needs of a suite of shortgrass prairie wildlife species. In 2004, Russell and Tricia placed perpetual conservation easements on the ranch through the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Colorado Species Conservation partnership program. The easement protects 12,245 acres of intact native shortgrass prairie and riparian ecosystems. This agreement focuses on proper livestock grazing to benefit all shortgrass prairie and plains riparian wildlife species. As a result of these easements, the Davis family became the first private landowner in Colorado to protect and manage black-tailed prairie dogs, which inhabit 8% of the Wineinger-Davis Ranch.
In addition to the protection and management of the wildlife, Russell and Tricia Davis have provided their ranch as an area of research to better understand mountain plover habitat use and nesting success on native shortgrass prairies in Colorado.
Beyond their ranch, the Davis family is committed to contributing to the conservation and agriculture movement. Among other efforts, Russell plays a lead role in Partners for Conservation, a multi-state effort that unites landowners to discuss land management decisions and conservation programs. The Davis family also opens their ranch to educational tours and workshops, including the Ranch and Wildlife Program (RAW), which teaches urban and suburban students about ranching and wildlife management.
“Most importantly, Russell has become one of the more active and influential agricultural producers in the state who has dedicated his time to working with all groups to gain a better understanding of the symbolic relationship that can and should occur with ranching and wildlife management,” wrote Ken Morgan, Private Lands Coordinator, Colorado Division of Wildlife, in his recommendation letter.