At its Winter meeting on Feb. 4, 2021, the Arizona Section of the Society for Range Management named Santa Cruz NRCD Cooperator Leland (Bill) Brake ‘Range Manager of the Year.’ Brake, the resident co-owner and manager of the Rose Tree Ranch in Elgin, is a University of Arizona range management graduate who has owned the Rose Tree Ranch since 1999. He runs a red and black Angus commercial cow/calf operation on 9,700 acres of private, Bureau of Land Management and Arizona State Trust land.
During his 21 years on the ranch, Brake has initiated the preparation of a Coordinated Resource Management (CRM) Plan with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bureau of Land Management, Arizona State Land Department, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Arizona Game and Fish Department and Santa Cruz Natural Resource Conservation District.
This CRM Plan outlines the ranch’s deferred rest rotation grazing system. Ten rain gauges spread across the ranch and annual vegetation monitoring of the key forage plants on six key areas help inform yearly grazing management decisions. Rangeland monitoring has demonstrated that overall rangeland conditions have improved during the 21 years of Mr. Brake’s stewardship.
The most telling fact about the Rose Tree Ranch is that when Brake bought the ranch in 1999 it had only five pastures. 21 years later, it now has 27 pastures. This change has provided tremendous flexibility to the grazing program by allowing tighter control over the timing, intensity and duration of livestock grazing in each pasture. Livestock and wildlife have both benefited from Brake’s management and stewardship of the ranch’s natural resources.
The award also recognized that Brake serves his industry and community by participating as Past President of the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association (2005-2007), Bureau of Land Management Resource Advisory Council (present), Arizona Game and Fish Commission (present), University of Arizona School of Renewable Natural Resources Advisory Committee (present), National Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (present), and Santa Cruz Natural Resource Conservation District Cooperator (present).
Brake is also the originator of the “This Ranch Feeds American Families” sign, which is now promoted by the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association Young Rancher Committee. His sign is on display in front of his working corrals on Upper Elgin Road.