rangeland restoration, sustainability, revegetation, cattle management, Oahe Reservoir
Early agriculture on western rangeland met with little success and resulted in serious consequences including soil erosion, loss of native woodlands and wildlife, and economic ruin. The Mortenson family in Stanley County, South Dakota, has been engaged in restoring degraded rangeland on their ranch for more than 50 years. Their primary goal has been to return the land to its condition prior to white settlement while maintaining a profitable cattle ranching operation. In recent years the ranch has served as a model of successful ranching based on a conservation ethic. This guidebook summarizes the restoration techniques and grazing regime used by the Mortensons and offers suggestions for applying these ideas to other locations. It is not intended to be a step-by-step cookbook, an all-complete reference, or a set of hard and fast rules. It is meant to provide an example of land management practices based on sound ecological principles. The quotes throughout these pages are Clarence Mortenson's. Since 1941, he has observed the changes taking place on the property described here. Sons Todd, Jeff, and Curt are now involved; Todd manages the land and the cattle operation. The ranch lost extensive bottomland forest to Oahe Reservoir on the nearby Missouri River in the 1950s. [Page 1]
South Dakota State University
Copyright © 1998 South Dakota State University
Boettcher, Susan E.; Johnson, W. Carter; Kronberg, Scott; Gartner, F. Robert; Todd, Clarence; Mortenson, Jeff; and Fausti, Scott, "The Mortenson Ranch: Cattle and Trees at Home on the Range. A Restoration Guidebook" (1998). Natural Resource Management Faculty Publications. 45.