The ranch is God’s creation that we have the opportunity to steward. We manage the land, livestock, wildlife, and water as one resource striving to maximize the production of the whole. Water is a critical resource for Washington Family Ranch. The drinking water for our camps comes from the Currant Creek and Muddy Creek watersheds. Stewarding the finite resource of fresh water plays a large role in our decision making process as to how we manage this high desert ranch.
Livestock are a tool for restoration on the Muddy Ranch. We use livestock to cover the soil so that the limited rainfall we receive stays in the ground and recharges the springs, creeks, and reservoirs. We do this through large numbers of livestock moving frequently between pastures, trampling the grass and covering the soil. We have and continue to invest in the construction of barbed wire fences to create more pastures. Livestock also cycle nutrients back into the soil, turning dead grasses into manure. While grasses are growing, livestock stimulate regrowth increasing the feed value of the forages for wildlife. During early spring through mid-summer parts of the ranch are left ungrazed to allow ample cover for upland bird nesting and deer fawning. Large areas of the ranch are not able to support the number of livestock necessary to properly graze pastures. In these areas we are working to develop springs and other water sources into stock tanks. This allows for the storage of water, protecting the water sources, as well as providing ample clean water for not only livestock but also wildlife.
The ranch actively pursues outside funding to accomplish much of its restoration work. We apply for grants to remove juniper, develop springs, and restore riparian, as well as, upland areas. The lower three miles of Muddy Creek, which flow directly into the John Day River, is designated as salmonid bearing. Steelhead historically used this reach to spawn and find refuge from the warm water temperatures of the John Day River. Because of previous management, flows have decreased on this stretch limiting the use by steelhead. It is our hope to restore flows and recreate a productive rearing ground for steelhead.
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