Rancher Jim O'Haco wins national wildlife stewardship award

PHOENIX - The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies recently chose Arizona rancher Jim O'Haco of the O'Haco Cattle Company in Winslow as the recipient of the National Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award.

The annual award recognizes the contributions of private farms, ranches and forestlands to conserve the nation's fish and wildlife resources.

O'Haco owns and operates a working cattle ranch consisting of more than 111,000 acres of private and public lands in north-central Arizona. His ranch provides habitat for numerous species including grassland birds, raptors, turkey, mule deer, bear, antelope, elk, fox, bobcats and mountain lions. As a third generation rancher, he uses agricultural practices that are economically sustainable as well as beneficial to wildlife.

"Jim O'Haco deserves to be recognized for actively seeking out wildlife projects that benefit the entire ecosystem, regardless of the impact the activities might have on his livestock operation. It's commendable that he recognizes proper land management can support both grazing and grassland conservation objectives," said Game and Fish Deputy Director Bob Broscheid.

Highlights of O'Haco's ongoing wildlife conservation efforts include:

• Partnering with Game and Fish on the Hi-Point Well Water Distribution Project to install 42 miles of buried water lines with 35 drinkers located strategically around the ranch. The water lines are kept open and the tanks filled even when the pastures are not being used to graze cattle for the benefit of wildlife.

• Allowing free public access for recreation on the ranch and hunting on some very desirable hunting lands.

• Participating in Game and Fish's Adopt-a-Ranch and Landowner Respect Programs.

• Implementing wildlife-friendly standards for all new and rebuilt fences within the ranch to allow easier movement between areas, especially for pronghorn antelope.

• Restoring grasslands by removing invasive trees to improve wildlife forage.

O'Haco was nominated for the award by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. In 2009, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission honored O'Haco with the Wildlife Habitat Stewardship Award for his significant contributions towards the welfare of the state's wildlife.

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