Matador Ranch & Cattle, LLC

Beaverhead Ranch

Dillon, Montana, United States

Certified Gold through 2022

Project Name
Project Type
Grassland Management
Grassland
Bean Creek
Wetlands & Water Bodies
Peet Creek
Wetlands & Water Bodies
Bluebird Project
Avian
Sage Grouse
Avian
Elk, Pronghorn and Deer Herd Management
Mammals
Sage Grouse
Species of Concern
Westslope Cutthroat Trout
Land Conservation Agreements
About the Program
Koch Industries, Inc. – Beaverhead Ranch encompasses 200,000 acres in Dillon, Montana, approximately 130 miles southwest of Helena. It is a cattle ranching operation that has had conservation efforts as part of its management for over 40 years. The Beaverhead team partners with government agencies to manage the on-site grassland and riparian habitat to benefit wildlife.

Practices and Impacts
  • The Beaverhead team currently manages the 200,000 acres of grassland with rotational grazing throughout the year. They also perform selective spraying and insect release to control invasive plant species. Since the last certification, the team has purchased an additional 10,000 acres to provide connectivity between the managed land areas. The team partners with Beaverhead County to conduct invasive species surveys, and with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) to survey wildlife species each year. Team members have observed improved grassland habitat since the start of rotational grazing and an increase in the numbers of deer, pronghorn and bald and golden eagles each year.
  • The Beaverhead team manages and monitors the populations of elk, pronghorn and mule deer in the grassland habitat. The team installed wildlife-friendly fences in areas identified as wildlife corridors to allow safe movement. An elk fence was installed around farm pivots in 2017 to prevent entry and risk of injury and to redirect the elk populations into historic habitat areas. Each year, the team repairs the wildlife-friendly fences and removes old wire fencing from the property. Annual monitoring has shown continued growth in numbers of elk, pronghorn and mule deer across all areas on-site.
  • The Beaverhead team manages 950 feet of Bean Creek as restored riparian habitat for the westslope cutthroat trout (WSCTT). After restoration, the team installed a fence along the creek to protect the habitat from cattle disturbance. Team members partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and FWP to conduct photo monitoring, fisheries monitoring and riparian assessments. The team has observed visible improvements to the vegetation and increasing numbers of WSCTT.
  • In 2013, the Beaverhead team entered into a 41-year land conservation agreement with FWS and FWP to re-establish a genetically pure population of WSCCT in Peet Creek. The agreement ensures FWS and FWP have access to the project area to monitor the WSCCT population and ensure the fish barrier blocking access of non-native fish is maintained. The agreement encourages Beaverhead employees to manage the riparian conditions as sustainable habitat for WSCTT.
  • The Beaverhead team maintains 33 nest boxes along 26 miles of trails to provide nesting habitat for mountain bluebirds. Team members regularly repair and clean the boxes and monitor them at least three times each year. The team has observed substantial use of the boxes by mountain bluebirds and an increasing number of adults in the area. The team reports nest box data to Montana Mountain Bluebird Trails and to Cornell Lab of Ornithology on the NestWatch website.
  • The team manages sagebrush habitat on-site to support a population of sage grouse by reducing threats and disturbance to the birds during key times of year. The team partners with FWP and the Bureau of Land Management to conduct annual monitoring of the population and replace/repair fence markers intended to prevent bird injury or death from flying into the fences. The team also practices rotational grazing and control of invasive species in the sagebrush habitat. Team members have observed low nest success and high chick mortality in the past two years due to cold and wet spring conditions, but continued annual monitoring will provide better accuracy of the population trend.  Sage grouse data from annual monitoring is used by FWP in their assessment of species status.

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