Ranchers honoured for stewardship

Family operation B.C. couple taking strides to improve sustainability

CRESTON, B.C. — Richard and Nancy Martens of Vanderhoof are British Columbia’s most recent environmental stewardship award winners.

The award was presented at the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association’s annual meeting in Creston May 23. It recognized the Martens’ contribution to improving grazing and water management on their ranch, which is owned by a family partnership called David Martens and Sons Ltd.

The Martens ranch was founded in the mid-1940s by Richard’s grandfather, David Martens. It is now run by five siblings, and Richard manages the beef division. The complete operation includes cropping, dairy and a feedlot. The beef section includes 550 Angus cows that calve from late April to early May. The calving area allows for one acre per cow.

Cows are sorted into three groups during the summer and are placed in a rotational grazing system using electric fencing. The family bale grazes in winter in an effort to cut feeding costs. Stockpiled forage is also available to extend the grazing system as late as November.

The Martenses are founding members of the Nechako Environmental and Water Stewardship Society and also have a demonstration site on their farm where researchers, university and high school students may visit for environmental studies.

The ranch’s water program is centred around Murray Creek, where the Martenses and six neighbours have worked to improve the water and restore spawning areas for white sturgeon.

They also have completed an environmental farm plan and joined an ecological goods and service project to protect riparian areas in their region.

“It is an ongoing thing and we still have a lot to do,” said Richard, who sees this work as a public good.

“The world is demanding beef that was produced in a sustainable way.”

The Martenses will participate in a national awards ceremony in August during the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association convention in Prince Edward Island.

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