The Clifton family ranch is located near Olalla. (Contributed)

The Clifton family ranch is located near Olalla. (Contributed)

Clifton ranch wins big awards for sustainability and innovation

Canadian Cattlemen’s Association awards range near Ollala with environmental award

Clifton Ranch near Ollala has been receiving some provincial and national attention for its innovative and environmentally sustainable ways of managing its land.

The family-owned ranch was awarded the 2019 Ranch Sustainability Award from the BC Cattlemen’s Association on May 24, and the ranch recently earned the 2019 Environmental Stewardship Award from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

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“We’re pretty honoured. We’re still in a little bit of shock. We’re not used to this much attention so it’s very nice to be recognized for all the hard work you’ve been doing,” said Wade Clifton, who started the projects designed to improve habitat on the ranch with his brother Brad, who passed away in February.

The Clifton family won the provincial award for how it manages the land, such as the 100 water developments used to take pressure off of riparian areas, reduce soil erosion and distribute cattle throughout the range, according the BC Cattlemen’s Association website.

It was also recognized for its partnership with groups like the Nature Trust of BC in establishing the White Lake Basin Biodiversity Ranch and managing the large number of species at risk on the landscape.

These include the more than 30 plant and animal species including sage thrashers, Great Basin spadefoot toads and western rattlesnakes that live in the ecosystem.

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“It’s important for two things. It’s important for us as far as being economically viable because without grass we can’t have cattle. The other part is because we are sustaining the grass where it is, we’re keeping all of the species that are there and allowing them to expand and survive. It’s a win-win for everybody,” Wade Clifton said.

“We did this because we thought it was the right thing and the economical thing to do. I hope people understand that we don’t just turn the cattle out there and let them eat the grass and trample it down.

“We are trying to maintain the grasslands. We’re trying to survive and make a living at the same time. It’s not about just going out and wrecking the country.

“We’re not doing that at all. Most ranchers are trying to look after all the grasses that are there.”

What set the Clifton ranch apart from the other nominees for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association award was their work with the Nature Trust to “restore and preserve the grasslands and ecosystems of the ranch, conserve species at risk habitat and preserve spawning grounds and habitat for songbirds – all the while using innovation and creativity to raise beef in a challenging natural landscape,” according to the association’s website.

The ranch is owned and operated by Wade and Sandra Clifton, and Dianne Clifton.

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