U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey awarded the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Environmental Stewardship Award (ESAP) to two Arizona ranching families on Nov. 4 who jointly operate the Diablo Trust near Flagstaff, Ariz.

The Diablo Trust, which includes 426,000 acres of intermingled federal, state, and private lands, is owned and operated by Bob and Judy Prosser of the Bar T Bar Ranch and Jack, Mindy, and Kit Metzger of the Flying M Ranch. The award recognizes U.S. cattle producers for long-standing contributions to the preservation of natural resources and habitat.

Urban influences, public recreation pressures, the anti-grazing movement, and pressure to develop threatened the ranches in the early 1990s. As a result, the ranches formed the Diablo Trust in 1993. The trust’s accomplishments range from a 24,000-acre grassland restoration project to educational tours and artists’ celebrations.

Other trust conservation efforts include 409 earthen reservoirs and stock ponds, 73 miles of water canals and ditches, 25 deep wells, 48 miles of buried pipeline, 81 steel drinking tubs, and 911 miles of fence.

“The Bar T Bar and Flying M Ranches are state-of-the-art ranches,” said Gary Parrott, Natural Resources Conservation Service rangeland management specialist in Arizona. “My assistance to them has basically been to facilitate what they want to do, with the knowledge that the natural resources are right up there at the top priority.”

The Diablo Trust is the fifth Arizona recipient of the award. The NCBA established the award program in 1991. Dow AgroSciences LLC and NRCS sponsor the award.

e-mail: cblake@farmpress.com