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Working Ranch - March 2018

$GPGſVU$GQPFVJG4CPEJ Montana ranching family honored with Environmental Stewardship Award FROM KORI ANDERSON MONTANA STOCKGROWERS ASSOCIATION PHOTOS BY LAURA NELSON MONTANA STOCKGROWERS ASSOCIATION “Seeing that watershed thriving; that’s been a real bright spot in my lifetime,” shares Montana cattleman, irrigator award-winner and environmental steward Chuck Hahn. “I addition to cattle, the diverse family ranch supports hay, small grains and forage crop farming, a trucking company, and a pheasant hunting enterprise. The multi-generational team included Chuck, his sons Dusty and Buck, his brother John Hahn, sister Bev Bird, her son Cory and his wife Jennilee and matriarch Dorothy Hahn. The ranch was also nominated by collaborators with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) for their partnership on projects that have benefi ted fi sheries and water quality on the ranch and for downstream users. But their conservation practices stretch far beyond the creek beds of the southwestern Montana ranch. Ron Spoon, a FWP fi sh biologist, has worked with the Hahn family since 1990. “Folks that collaborate with Chuck know he thoroughly protects the function of the ranching operation, but they know he also genuinely pushes for solutions that benefi t resources beyond the ranch,” Spoon says. DEEP VALUES ON DEEP CREEK “This really is the life blood to our main farming and ranching operation here, along with the Missouri River itself,” Dusty says, standing in nearly waist-high grass on the banks of Deep Creek. Between 1,000 and 3,000 brown trout annually migrate out of Deep hope they slow down every once in a while,” Chuck Hahn says, nodding at the steady line of boaters, anglers and campers streaming north to Canyon Ferry Lake. He’s not talking about their speedometers, either. “I just see people so rushed,” he says. “If they’d just take the time to slow down, look, observe, take what they see here into consideration, they’d see: this all interacts together, and we’re all here to try and make things better.” While a 360-degree view of their Townsend, Montana ranch could probably fl ash through his mind in a millisecond of memories, the scope wouldn’t fi t in a passenger window at 65 mph. To the south, Deep Creek meanders west to its end in the Missouri River. It cuts its path from the east through the Big Belt Mountains, providing water for Blue-Ribbon fi sheries, essential crop irrigation, recreation and stock water along the way. The gently sloping Elkhorn Mountains rise up to the west, where, thanks to conservation efforts in recent decades, the mountain island lives up to its name as a wildlife destination. There, the Hahn family’s cattle graze on the rangeland that holds its ground as open space buffering the public land from the subdivisions sprawled through the valley. Standing in their irrigated pasture in the middle of it all, Chuck pulls the bill of his ball cap down a little. He squints at the sun bearing down on this landscape his family has known through every season for more than 100 years. Above all else, he says, he hopes the passengers speeding by on the busy highway see the same thing he see here: patience. He hopes they understand the patience it takes to see conservation efforts pay off beyond the ranch and their personal bottom line; patience to witness the tenacity of his father and grandfather touch his sons and nephews’ desire to care for the land for future generations; patience for one short lifetime of work to preserve resources timelessly treasured by ranchers, recreational users, hunters & anglers alike. “The thing this family really understands is the kind of give and take that goes in to the bigger picture,” Denise Thompson says. “They understand there are going to be sacrifi ces, but the overall benefi t and reward of these efforts outweigh the sacrifi ces.” The Broadwater County Conservation District administrator helped recommend the Hahn Ranch as the 2018 Montana Environmental Stewardship Award winners. The award recognizes cattle ranchers who are exemplary stewards of the land, livestock, wildlife and natural resources. In 76 I WORKING RANCH I MARCH 2018


Working Ranch - March 2018
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