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Steward of the Land

For Gene Carrico, it all comes down to being a good manager.

“You have to be in tune with Mother Nature. Everything you do has an effect on everything else,” said Carrico, who owns and runs Dexter Peak Ranch with his brother Mark.

Dexter Peak Ranch, south and west of Rawlins, is bordered by the Medicine Bow National Forest on two sides.

Purchased in 1971 by their father as a sheep ranch, the elder Carrico moved into cattle. “Back in 1975, he was already thinking about what was best for resources,” Gene said. Through incremental steps and projects with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Carrico family has been able to make conservation a part of their planning.

Landowner Gene Carrico

In 2009, Dexter Peak was among the first group of ranches that signed up for a pilot Sage-Grouse Initiative (SGI) Conservation Activity Plan, said Mark Shirley, district conservationist for Carbon County. The conservation plan, as a result, helped Dexter Peak Ranch become eligible for a SGI contract, Carrico said.

 Over the years, NRCS has helped with stock water development and forestry improvements with the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and wildlife friendly fencing through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP).

Today, the Carricos take in yearlings from nearby ranches. They have 14 rotational pastures.  In the fall, they operate an outfitting and hunting guide business, Out West Safaris.

Stewardship of the Land

On a drive through his ranch, Carrico surveyed his efforts to control the invasive species Canadian thistle. He talks about stock ponds, reservoirs and springs. “Water is very important,” he said. “It is part of taking care of the land. He keeps an eye on the timber and balances that with fuel management and preventing wildfires.

“You have to listen to the land and do what it tells you,” he said.

Carrico hopes future generations will appreciate his love of the land. He would like to see more current landowners be serious about an estate plan. “A lot of people don’t see the value of that. I think it’s important – how to transfer to the next generation. “

“We’re always thinking of what needs done right now. We’re so busy trying to make a living day-to-day. And we all think we are going to live longer. “

Yet, despite all the planning, Gene Carrico realizes that all is dependent on whether the next generation wants to continue the tradition. “The younger generation - they don’t want to work the hours. It is a lifestyle. You have to love it.”