North America’s grasslands are among the most imperiled ecosystems in the world. Consequently, America’s grassland birds have declined more than any other bird group in the continent, some species by as much as 80%. Because the vast majority of America’s grassland birds breed on private lands, working with ranchers is our best hope for conserving them.
Benefits to Birds
Ranchers are stewards of America’s grasslands. Our strategy is to keep them ranching. Conservation ranching is a market-based approach to grassland bird conservation that empowers consumers to support management practices that benefits birds and other wildlife. When managed properly, cattle grazing can actually improve bird habitat by diversifying structure and species composition. Conservation ranching practices ensure diverse bird habitat, healthy soil, abundant pollinators, and cleaner streams. To ensure these goals are met, Audubon conducts bird surveys on certified ranches with rancher consent.
Benefits to Consumers
Beef from Audubon-certified land is hormone and antibiotic-free, ethically raised, and delicious. Supporting Audubon-certified ranches is better for grassland birds, better for the land, and better for you. Our certification seal can be found on high quality meat products and empowers consumers to support ranches that benefit grassland birds and their habitat.
Benefits to Ranchers
Beef from Audubon-certified lands garners a premium price and provides a unique opportunity for ranchers to showcase their excellent management practices. This helps them care for their families and provides exceptional habitat for wildlife. By first listening to the ranching community, trusting in their knowledge of sustainable land management, and learning from their resiliency in a volatile marketplace, we are ensuring that our strategies and solutions will benefit both people and nature. Buying beef from Audubon-certified lands supports rural economies and the ranching way of life.
“We, as stewards of the land, recognize that all things in nature are interconnected. This is why we believe in and practice regenerative ranching. Regenerative ranching involves a holistic view and approach that holds that all things contribute to the whole. Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Program helps us to ensure that grassland birds’ habitats are preserved and protected as an integral part of our ecosystem and it ensures that all animals raised on certified ranches are ethically raised and free of antibiotics and hormones. When you purchase meat raised on our certified ranch you participate with us in the protection of our grassland birds and help to secure the legacy of conservation-focused ranches in the USA. We know you care about what your family eats, where it comes from, and how it is supported … well, so do we.”
– Lisa and Lance Wheeler, Operators of Rafter W Ranch, an Audubon-Certified Ranch
Since 2009, the Conservation Ranching program in the Rockies has
- Certified 14 ranches totaling 390,310 acres in Wyoming and Colorado
- Sold beef in more than 9 restaurants, retailers, and institutions
- Conducted more than 40 bird surveys on 11 ranches
- Conducted 5 landowner workshops
- Created a decision support tool for bird-friendly land management practices
We thank the NRCS USDA for their support.