Western Ranch Management and Ecosystem Stewardship

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What We Do

The Western Ranch Management and Ecosystem Stewardship Program, hosted by the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, is a developing academic and research initiative aimed at addressing today’s challenges of ranching in a rapidly changing world. Our program is founded on understanding the diverse ecosystems that define western landscapes, and the natural resources and processes that support ranching communities. We work closely with ranch owners, managers and stakeholders to identify education and research needs specific to the Rocky Mountain West. Ranches serve as the classroom and laboratory so students can learn by hands-on experience, interact with practitioners, and see first-hand the strategies used to keep working lands sustainable.

Our mission

Support higher education, applied research and professional development for future generations of ranchers, producers and land stewards through experiential learning and engagement in the Rocky Mountain West.

Our vision

Promote sustainable ranching practices through traditional and contemporary approaches that support our forests, rangelands, wildlife and water while fostering livelihoods and strengthening the resilience of working landscapes.


Enrollment is open for 2020 Summer Field Course

The Western Ranch Management and Ecosystem Stewardship summer field course will be offered from July 20 to August 12, 2020 (note the new dates due to COVID-19). We will be accepting ten students, so get in touch soon about enrolling. See the Education page for more details.

CSU Extension internship program

Internship opportunities for the summer of 2020 have been announced! The CSU Extension internship program offers 10 week internships across Colorado and a $4,000 stipend. The program offers hands-on learning at the county/local level in addition to research and outreach. Opportunities range from working on day-to-day operations on a ranch to conducting ecological studies to developing a holistic grazing business model. The Western Ranch Management and Ecosystem Stewardship program is proud to be mentoring two of the internships. See the internship opportunities here. Applications are now closed, but check back next year.

New ranch management planning course offered fall 2019 semester

The Western Ranch Management and Ecosystem Stewardship Program has partnered with the Ladder Canyon Ranch to offer a new course in ranch management planning. Students enrolled in the new course will work with ranch owners in developing a three-year management plan focused on increasing native flora and wildlife habitat, reducing surface erosion and water run-off, and mitigating risk of wildland fire.

Summer field course successfully launched

Six students completed our first offering of the Western Ranch Management and Ecosystem Stewardship summer field course. Ten ranches served as the classroom for this 20 day field course. We are especially grateful for the generosity and time of the many guest speakers that made this course a success. Speakers included ranch managers and owners, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Western Landowners Alliance, Nature Conservancy, Quivira Coalition, Colorado Cattlemen's Association, Colorado Division of Water Resources, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Colorado State Land Board.

Student scholarships awarded by Western Landowners Alliance

The Western Landowners Alliance awarded three $1,500 scholarships to students enrolled in the summer field course. Congratulations to the awardees and special thanks to the Western Landowners Alliance and the generosity of its members.