TOWNSEND – For over 100 years, the Hahn Ranch outside Townsend has been a family affair. Over the last few decades, the family has made conservation and environmental stewardship a priority.
The effort was recognized this month after the ranch was selected as one of six regional honorees of the Environmental Stewardship Award Program.
Dusty Hahn, part of the fourth generation on the ranch, said he and his family have worked closely with state and local organizations to preserve and enhance area ecosystems.
The first big project was installing a ditch siphon on Deep Creek, a Missouri river tributary that crosses the ranch. The siphon rerouted irrigation water under instead of the through the creek, with the goal of restoring the creek to a free-flowing stream.
“It’s a tributary to the Missouri and also a major spawning creek for rainbow trout as well as brown trout,” Hahn said.
Since finishing the project, trout almost immediately began swimming upstream from the Missouri into the creek to spawn.
The ranch also works to conserve power and water where possible, even utilizing the natural geography to do the work.
“A lot of what we do is install pipelines that are gravity-fed instead of pressure pumped,” Hahn said. “We’re even to the point where we’re using some sensors in the ground to monitor the groundwater holding capacity and the sensors can actually help us know when to apply that water, so becoming more efficient all the time.”
In the late 1990s, the ranch enrolled more than 1,600 acres of their land into a conservation easement to preserve the rural-suburban interface.
“We’re stakeholders on the landscape, the same as a lot of other people. We just want to do things to preserve the environment and make it healthier and preserve the landscape for future generations the way we’ve grown up with and would like to see it,” Hahn said.
After winning the regional award, the family will now compete for the national award with that winner being announced at the annual Cattle Industry Convention in New Orleans in February.