Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Beginning

      During April 2011, members of the Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable (SRR), the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff, a Noble Foundation consultant, and the owner of Texas' JA Ranch met to initiate the first ranch sustainability assessment pilot project.  A long day spent in boardroom discussions culiminated in agreement upon a framework for rangeland resource data to be collected on the JA Ranch.  The team also identified social and economic information needed to complement the ecological data. 
      Ranch monitoring and assessment will lay the foundation for creation of a formal business plan for the JA Ranch.  The Noble Foundation will provide technical ranch planning expertise to guide the JA Ranch family through the planning process, including identifiation of goals and objectives, discussion of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the ranch business.
      Preliminary information will come from a self-analysis generated through responses to a set of questions available on the Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable website in the online Ranch Sustainability Assessment Guidebook at http://sustainable.rangelands.org/ranchassessment.  As we work through the monitoring and business planning process, we'll update this blog to introduce readers to our team members and share the story of a second generation rancher putting the past and future of his operation on paper to enhance his ranch's sustainability.  Our goal is to identify lessons learned and inspire other ranchers to take on the challenge of ranch sustainability assessment to improve their operations.