Grassland restoration work at Hopi ranches benefits wildlife

POLACCA, Ariz. - Duane Coleman, general manager of four Hopi tribal ranches, was recently recognized by the Arizona Game and Fish Department with its Wildlife Habitat Stewardship of the Year Award.

Coleman said while he accepted the award, all 11 ranch employees deserve the award for their work on wildlife habitat at the ranches.

Coleman and the employees at the four ranches worked in partnership with the 26 Bar Ranch in Springerville, the Arizona Elks Society and the Arizona Antelope Foundation to benefit elk and livestock.

The wildlife habitat work included laying miles of pipelines for water, fixing water tanks, building new springs, restoring grasslands and removing junipers because they are an invasive species that use too much water.

The four ranches are the Clear Creek Ranch, south of Winslow off Route 87; Aja Ranch, south of Winslow off Route 99; and the Heart and Dry Ranches near Twin Arrows.

Mule deer, elk and antelope are the main wildlife found at these ranches.

Coleman, who has been the general manager for the past seven years, said he enjoys the work because it is rewarding.

"Our work is never done, but we have a lot of collaborative efforts. We have more grassland to restore and more pipeline (for water) that needs to be put down," he said.

Born and raised in the Blue River area, he was raised near Springerville. He is a fourth generation rancher. He graduated from Northern Arizona University.

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