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Private Lands Stewardship Program

Producer Perspectives

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Agreement Flexibility Allows Young Rancher to Benefit from Conservation Easement Sale

by Kate Rasmussen
Bryant Jones bought the Willow Basin Ranch in southwest Montana shortly after graduating college. He soon began exploring the possibility of selling a conservation easement to help pay down the loan he took out to buy the property. Although a number of entities specialize in conservation easements, Bryant quickly settled on The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Ninety five percent of his ranch in the foothills of the Blacktail Mountains is sage grouse habitat. TNC has a primary interest in preserving sage grouse habitat and was eager to work with Bryant on an agreement to keep the Willow Basin grassland intact forever.

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Photo credit: Kori Jones
Photo credit: Kori Jones
Photo credit: Kori Jones
Photo credit: Kori Jones

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Keeping Wolves Away with Interns and In-herding

by Kate Rasmussen
When the Alderspring Ranch began summering cow-calf pairs in their BLM and Forest Service leases outside of May, Idaho, they needed to figure out how to manage the impact of their cattle on the landscape and keep wolves from taking a toll on their bottom line. Melanie Elzinga and her father Glenn, founder of Alderspring, hauled horses and riders to their 48,000-acre public range every day hoping the human presence would be enough to keep the wolves away. Their effort helped with their wolf issue but the time and resources it took didn’t pencil out. In 2015, Glenn launched a new approach to the challenges they faced on the remote allotment by starting a range riding program.

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The Elzingas have over 25 years of experience marketing their beef direct to consumers. They created a free guide to help producers start selling their own frozen beef products online in response to the COVID-19 crisis: www.alderspring.com/grassrootstartup/shipping-in-five-days/ Photo credit: Melanie Elzinga
The Elzingas hire range riders to move yearlings through Alderspring’s summer range using a management style they refer to as “in-herding”. Photo credit: Melanie Elzinga
The Elzingas’ land stewardship practices became Alderspring’s online brand identity and differentiated its products in a crowded market. Photo credit: Melanie Elzinga
Consistent work on the website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is their main online marketing strategy. SEO increases traffic to a website through search engine results. Photo credit: Linnaea Elzinga
The Elzingas’ land ethic differentiates Alderspring beef and customers are willing to pay a premium for Alderspring organic beef finished on diverse, high-country grasses. Photo credit: Melanie Elzinga
“Selling in farmers markets helped me understand not only my customers but also what their interests are and helped me conceptualize how they wanted the product presented,” Glenn Elzinga. Photo credit: Melanie Elzinga

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Direct Marketing Lessons from Glenn Elzinga

by Kate Rasmussen
In 1993, Glenn and Caryl Elzinga began their direct-to-consumer business by selling conventionally raised beef in retail stores, restaurants, and farmers’ markets. Glenn admits these outlets were not financially profitable but were invaluable learning opportunities that would pay off later when the couple began selling beef products online. “Selling in farmers markets helped me understand not only my customers but also what their interests are and helped me conceptualize how they wanted the product presented,” Glenn said. The Elzingas learned there was a demand for organic, grass-fed beef raised on sustainably managed land and that selling locally wasn’t going to pencil out.

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Glenn’s main recommendations are “understand who you are selling to, test your product on the market, build relationships with customers, and have a great photographer on hand.” Photo credit: Melanie Elzinga
The Elzingas learned there was a demand for organic, grass-fed beef raised on sustainably managed land. Photo credit: Linnaea Elzinga
Glenn and Carol Elzinga run the Alderspring Ranch in May, Idaho with their seven daughters and son-in-law. Photo credit: Linnaea Elzinga
Range riders keep the Alderspring yearlings on fresh, high-quality forage, and manage wolf predation as well as prevent over grazing and damage to riparian areas. Photo credit: Melanie Elzinga
Most Aldersping customers are health conscious, and many suffer from chronic illness and prefer beef raised and finished in a natural, chemical free environment. Photo credit: Melanie Elzinga
The main page of the Alderspring website reflects the ranch's brand identity and reads “Wild wellness. Delivered.” Photo credit: Melanie Elzinga
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Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources

Bim Kendall House

804 E Fremont St

Laramie, WY 82072

Phone: (307) 766-5080

Fax: (307) 766-5099

Email: haub.school@uwyo.edu

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