North America's grasslands are among the most imperiled ecosystems in the world. Consequently, America’s grassland birds have declined more than any other bird group in the continent, some species by as much as 80%. Because the vast majority of America’s grassland birds breed on private lands, working with ranchers is our best hope for conserving them.
Benefits to Birds
To save grassland birds, we’re enlisting and assisting America’s ranchers—the stewards of our remaining grassland landscapes—in implementing conservation ranching practices hundreds of thousands of acres in Wyoming and Colorado. We’re working with them to develop Habitat Management Plans that implement regenerative grazing and other bird conservation practices, such as controlling invasive species and native plant seeding.
By mimicking America’s historic bison herds, regenerative grazing invigorates diverse plant communities and supports nutrient cycles that rebuild soil and conserve water. It even has potential to remove carbon from the atmosphere and add enormous amounts of carbon to soil organic matter. We measure the effectiveness of these practices by monitoring bird diversity and abundance, vegetation change, and soil health.
Benefits to Consumers
Beef from Audubon-certified land is hormone and antibiotic-free, ethically raised, and delicious. Supporting Audubon-certified ranches is better for grassland birds, better for the land, and better for you. Our certification seal can be found on high quality meat products and empowers consumers to support ranches that benefit grassland birds and their habitat.
Benefits to Ranchers
Beef from Audubon-certified lands garners a premium price and provides a unique opportunity for ranchers to showcase their excellent management practices. This helps them care for their families and provides exceptional habitat for wildlife. By first listening to the ranching community, trusting in their knowledge of sustainable land management, and learning from their resiliency in a volatile marketplace, we are ensuring that our strategies and solutions will benefit both people and nature. Buying beef from Audubon-certified lands supports rural economies and the ranching way of life.
"Included in the mission of our ranch is the idea that good stewardship is important for the long-term financial health of the ranch, as well as the health of the sagebrush-grassland we manage. Partnering with Audubon to promote conservation ranching is an exciting opportunity to help educate the public about what we are doing to improve prairie ecosystems that are critical to many species of birds and other wildlife."
—Jay and Linda Butler, Owner Operators of Pronghorn Ranch, an Audubon-certified ranch
Since 2009, the Conservation Ranching Initiative in the Rockies has
- Enrolled 18 ranches totaling 548,940 acres in Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana
- Recruited 11 restaurants, retailers, and institutions in Wyoming and Colorado.
- Conducted more than 40 bird surveys on 12 ranches
- Conducted 8 landowner workshops
- Created a decision support tool for bird-friendly land management practices
We thank the NRCS USDA for their support.
News and Stories
Western Meadowlark. Photo: James Halsch/Audubon Photography Awards
Tell Your Grocer!
Tell food retailers and restaurants that you want them to carry beef from Audubon-certified lands!