CHADRON, Neb. – Each year the Nebraska Section Society for Range Management (SRM) recognizes a rancher, or ranch family, who exemplifies a strong land ethic that is the heart of the Society’s mission. RGM Corp, Randy, Gina, Beau and Kahla Mathewson, was recognized by the Society during their 2017 annual meeting.
The Mathewson family has long been stewards of their land in Western Nebraska. They are conservation leaders and have implemented numerous changes to their cattle and farming operation. These changes have resulted in significant conservation improvements to their rangeland, their cropland, and to wildlife habitat.
The Mathewson’s have implemented many conservation practices. Through these practices, they have targeted improvements to their rangeland by implementing a prescribed grazing system. Randy and Beau have made significant improvements which include installing water developments, cross-fencing and incorporating seeded cropland into their grazing operation. These improvements have allowed them to implement a rotational grazing system, which incorporates longer recovery periods in each pasture during the growing season. This grazing strategy has resulted in significant improvements to their rangeland resource.
These improvements to their grazing management system were extremely beneficial and allowed them to be better able to deal with the long-term drought of the 2000’s and to be minimally impacted by the 2012 drought while continuing to see high levels of range health and an upward range trend.
The Mathewson’s conservation ethic does not end with their rangeland. Although their custom cattle grazing operation is their primary operation, they maintain the same high standard of stewardship on their cropland. They have also have implemented conservation practices on their dryland and irrigated farming operation, and have made strides in improving habitat for pheasant and grouse. They have converted every acre of their dryland cropland to grass with the intention of incorporating this into their grazing system. They have also installed over 3 miles of windbreaks for livestock protection and diversity in wildlife habitat. Their fields which were seeded have a high diversity of native grasses, forbs, shrubs, pollinator habitat and wildlife watering facilities.
The Mathewsons’ conservation efforts include the implementation of a rangeland monitoring program on nearly 11,000 acres of native grasslands. Beau established monitoring photopoints and annually completes species composition determinations and rangeland trend analysis on 19 monitoring sites. These monitoring sites were set up during of a major shift in the operation from a cow-calf system to a custom yearling heifer system. This information is also being used to help them refine their rotational grazing system on an annual basis to ensure that the rangeland resource is being managed at the highest level possible. This information will be added to the extensive records that have been kept in the past and will allow them to continue to make improved grazing management decisions for the both the short and long term.
Randy and Beau Mathewson exemplify a high stewardship ethic and have willingly showcased their operation to numerous local and state groups in an effort to promote education about rangeland management. They are leaders in conservation in Western Nebraska and have made numerous significant improvements the working landscapes of Cheyenne County that will have long-term benefits for many generations to come.