By: Leopold Conservation Award Program
Brothers Blaine, Brent, and Jay Tanner and their families represent the fifth and sixth generations and over 130 years of Tanners ranching in the Grouse Creek valley in Box Elder County. Della Ranches is comprised of 17,000 acres of private land and an additional 175,000 acres that is managed through state and federal grazing permits, giving the Tanners responsibility for conservation efforts on 192,000 acres of grazing and farmland.
Della Ranches includes many conservation practices that help to ensure its sustainability for future generations. The Tanners graze their livestock up and down the valley using a system of pastures and grazing allotments, which eliminates the need for trucking of livestock between summer and winter pastures. Della is critical habitat for several wildlife species including sage grouse, mule deer, pronghorn, and elk, so the Tanners’ range management techniques take the health of the wildlife population into consideration when making decisions to benefit their cattle operation. Some of their range management techniques include juniper removal, brush management, and burn restoration, which have enhanced vegetation and wildlife populations. The Tanners’ water management practices include a nearly 10-mile long pipeline that established water troughs, opening hundreds of acres for desert winter grazing. They also installed headgate structures along irrigation streams to manage water flow.
The Tanner Family prides itself on outreach to the larger community. They started the Box C Ranch in 2001, which has added another source of revenue to the ranch but also serves as an educational opportunity for guests who are taught about the importance of sustainable agriculture through exposure to the ranch’s conservation activities. Della is also home to several research projects including a sage grouse tracking project by Utah State University. Beyond the borders of the ranch, the Tanner brothers have held numerous positions in agricultural organizations at the local and state levels.
“The Tanners have been great examples of a conservation ethic for generations and exemplify the pioneer spirit of Utah,” said Bill Hopkin, Utah Department of Agriculture and Food in his letter of recommendation. “Their service and love for natural resources is from the heart and Utah is a better place because of this family.”