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ELKO — The Moris and the Shoesole Resource Management Group have been grazing permittees on public land for 20 plus years; all involved were recently recognized with 2016 Rangeland Stewardship awards given by the Bureau of Land Management.

These awards recognize the dedication to the health and productivity of public rangelands that the BLM manages.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land. Every year four awards are given and this year two of the four awards were given to Elko County ranchers.

Rangeland Stewardship – Permittee Award

Pete and Sam Mori know ranching. Their father, Nelo, and mother Ida Mae started in the 1950s and the brothers continue to operate the family ranch 60 years later with their families. The Mori families are active livestock managers. They spend time on the ground regularly to ensure that the needs of the land are met. They have continually displayed an exceptional willingness to learn, improve, and maintain excellent rangeland health, while maintaining a viable livestock operation. The family was recently recognized for this by the BLM at the Public Lands Council in Boise earlier this month.

“The Mori Ranch has had such success that they have become a respected leader in the ranching and livestock community,” Kathryn Dyer, BLM Nevada Range Program lead, said. “They have also become so respected for their positive management and open communication that many agencies have sought their input on a variety of topics.”

The Mori family employs two major management techniques to get the job done; riding/herding and a three-pasture rotation. In short, the three-pasture deferred rotation system is this: one pasture is used early, one in the hot season, and one after seed ripe. This may seem simple, but the process is labor intensive and a labor of love.

Five generations of the Moris work together, and with their neighbors, to achieve success. They take it upon themselves to ensure that the livestock are moved when the vegetation asks for it, which is often earlier than their grazing permit date would allow them to stay in an area. This approach has paid off, as the Mori Allotment is healthy and diverse.

Pro-active livestock movement and keeping a close eye on range conditions have helped keep cheatgrass at bay throughout the Mori Allotment, too. Healthy and vigorous native rangelands remain intact, providing lush wildlife habitat, appropriate fire return intervals, and an opportunity for sportsmen and recreationists to enjoy the area. The Moris have effectively managed to protect and enhance sage-grouse habitat throughout the Allotment, because they have managed the ecological health of the land as a whole.

“They are more than sage-grouse habitat stewards, they are most decidedly entire Rangeland Stewards,” Jill Silvey, Elko District Manager, said.

Earlier this month they were awarded for their dedication with the national award for Permittees of the Year in Rangeland Stewardship. The Mori Allotment was the focus of the nomination as the Mori family has been the sole operator for 60-plus years. The Moris lease and hold permits on multiple allotments and manage those with the same work and dedication.

“It is important to our family that you know, this is very humbling,” Sam Mori, said. “We are very appreciative of the BLM. We have had the good fortune of working with a long string of BLM employees, our neighbors, and Elko Land and Livestock association that helps us manage across boundaries in a positive way.”

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Range Stewardship Award- Collaborative Partner Group

Holistic range management. Not an easy process, but one that the Shoesole Resource Management Group knows well over the past 20 years of working with neighbors and land management agencies.

The Shoesole Group is made up of three ranching families in Elko County. The Cottonwood Ranch, which initiated the group in the 1990s, the Boies family and the Uharts are all part of the team that coordinate with representatives of; the Bureau of Land Management and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Nevada Department of Wildlife, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Trout Unlimited, Nevada Department of Agriculture, Nevada Division of Forestry and others.

The group and cooperating agencies meet three times a year. First thing in the spring, all three ranches propose a comprehensive approach that includes planned grazing use for the upcoming year. Range specialists, wildlife biologists, and others ask questions and give feedback on the proposed plan, which are then submitted to the agencies for final approval.

A summer field tour takes place when the group looks at conditions on the ground up-close and personal. A final meeting is organized in the fall to review the activities that occurred through the grazing season. The entire process takes time and trust to build relationships across traditional, jurisdictional boundaries. The hard work and determination from the entire group means better results and understanding the needs of wildlife, livestock, and watersheds.

“Many agency representatives lead a full career and never have the chance to experience what a fulfilling opportunity this is,” Dyer said. “I can say that without these relationships our jobs wouldn’t be the same!”

The existence of this group has led, more or less directly, to the establishment of the Sagebrush Alliance of Northeastern Elko County (SANE), a landowner-organized and driven effort aimed at addressing Greater Sage-Grouse issues. The networks and relationships built through these planning efforts have also paved the way for more collaborative opportunities between the agencies in otherwise unrelated projects in Elko County.

“All three ranches have shown tremendous leadership in their collaboration efforts,” Silvey said. “This has been a truly ground-breaking effort achieved by Nevada ranching families and agency collaboration to ensure the health and productivity of the rangelands.”

When the Shoesole Resource Management Group was asked to give a quote Robin Boies said it best. ““It was humbling and gratifying to receive the award knowing that there are many good stewards out there on the land who are deserving of recognition,” Robin Boies, said. “The award was an acknowledgement for working toward rangeland health, finding solutions on our individual allotments with a team of people interested in our local economy, culture and natural resource that we share. We are grateful for the willingness, support and courage shown, to step outside the lines in the beginning, and give this experiment a chance, or there would be no Shoesole Team.”

In a recent quote from their neighbor James Rogers, manager of the Winecup Gamble Ranch and member of SANE, when he formally transferred the old Shoesole brand to the group:

“Shoe Sole Team — You have left your mark across this great landscape. The trail you have blazed will forever be remembered as one of the greatest contributions ever made to the land, the wildlife, and to future generations. It has not always been easy but there is confidence for many of use in the public lands grazing community because of the perseverance, humility, integrity, and wisdom put forth by each of you. May this token of our appreciation serve as a reminder and be an encouragement that through your process of collaboration, many are following in your footsteps.”

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