Casey and Lacey Coulter operate Coulter Family Ranch in central Montana, while raising their children Garrett, Poppy, and Daisy on the place their family homesteaded in 1914. Over the past few years, the Coulters have adopted several conservation practices intended to revitalize soil health and grass production, increase water infiltration rates, and adapt their livestock to the land they operate on. In attempting to promote soil biology and reduce disturbance, they have incorporated cover crops, permanent grass plantings, winter grazing, and animal diversity into their operation.
“We always strive to live by the three Ps: people, planet, and profit,” the Coulters said.
Improving ranch biodiversity
The Coulter family began these conservation practices as part of WWF’s Ranch Systems and Viability Planning Network (RSVP) program, which aims to provide a comprehensive support system for ranchers to develop sustainable grazing management plans. Ranchers receive on-the-ground technical support as well as access to continuing education. From workshops to webinars, program participants are learning how to make significant on-ranch changes. These changes are producing positive outcomes that include avoiding grassland conversion, improving carbon sequestration and storage, and improving ecological systems such as water infiltration and biodiversity, and land productivity.
With 57 ranches and nearly 530,000 acres of grassland, the RSVP program is over halfway to reaching its program goal to enroll 1 million acres in the Northern Great Plains by 2025. The program, which began in the fall of 2020, is supported by McDonald’s, Cargill, and the Walmart Foundation, among others.