3rd-generation immigrant cattle rancher in Arizona honored for ecological restoration

In February of 2018, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association announced that the Jim O’Haco Cattle Company of Winslow, Arizona, as the winner of the 2017 Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP).

Award presentation. Photo courtesy of NCBA.

The award was presented at the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Phoenix, Arizona.

Established in 1898, Jim O’Haco Cattle Company is owned by Jim and Jeanne O’Haco and encompasses about 60,000 acres in eastern Arizona.

Much like other ranching families, the precedent for environmental stewardship was set long ago when Mr. O’Haco’s grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from the Basque Country in the Pyrenees Mountains on border of Spain and France. Two generations later, Mr. O’Haco has spent his lifetime continuing the legacy and implementing land management programs to restore grazing land and improve water infrastructure on his family’s operation.

A notable property improvement was the installation of the High Point Well. Initiated over a period of ten years, the well features 42 miles of buried pipeline, supplying water to 60,000 acres of land. The increased water access has not only benefited grazing conditions, it has restored wildlife habitat and increased wildlife populations throughout the ranch.

The well also reduces damage done to native plants by cattle, since it cuts down the distances they need to travel for water. Water improvements were coupled with efforts to reduce invasive juniper and other brush. Much of this progress has been supported through partnerships with state and federal agencies, including the Arizona Game & Fish Department, and the United States Forest Service, as well as local conservation groups.

Caring for our natural resources is a shared ambition and point of pride among livestock producers,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Craig Uden. “Jim is a true conservationist and partner of his community. His leadership is an example to us all.

Commenting on his family’s on-going stewardship efforts, Jim O’Haco said, “Two things in life that I’ve always wanted to do and I think I have mostly accomplished them; have quality cattle and help the environment. The job’s not done; we can always improve. We learn from our past and keep on improving.

Each year, six families are recognized with regional Environmental Stewardship awards, with one being honored as the national winner. Established in 1991, the award identifies outstanding land stewards in the cattle industry. The program is generously sponsored by companies and federal agencies who share the industry’s commitment to caring for the environment and protecting natural resources.

The four sponsors—Dow AgroSciences, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, McDonald’s, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—partner with the National Cattlemen’s Foundation to promote environmental stewardship throughout the beef supply chain.

Watch 6-minute video about the O’Haco Chevelon Ranch restoration.

See National Cattlemen’s Beef Association website.

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