Based on a vision that combines economic viability with environmental sustainability, Gregg Simonds, mentor and founding partner of the Humboldt Ranch, implemented a ranch-wide grazing program based on managing livestock for plant recovery. Rather than reducing livestock numbers, the ranch controls when and how long cattle stay in any one area, giving plant communities a chance to grow and thrive. Humboldt Ranch manager, Jesse Braatz and his wife, Ricarda, have been applying the principles of grazing for recovery for almost 15 years now in the face of floods, wildfires, and droughts.
Today, willows and other plants are becoming re-established, old gullies are starting to heal from decades of erosion and drought, beaver are returning, water tables are rising and better habitat conditions are being created for a multitude of wildlife ranging from insects to trout and from birds to pronghorn antelope. In essence, this vast landscape is becoming a “lifescape.” By comparing current conditions to historical imagery and by conducting interviews with people who have lived or worked in this area for decades, the film explores the power of managed grazing to restore landscapes at scale and ultimately, to offer a vision for sustainable ranching on western rangelands.
The story of the Humboldt Ranch was produced by the production company Little Wild and funded by the Intermountain West Joint Venture, Bureau of Land Management, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Working Lands for Wildlife, and Open Range Consulting.