Third-generation rancher Tony Malmberg has been stewarding ranchlands in Wyoming and Eastern Oregon for more than 30 years. Through his association with Grasslands, LLC and its partner organization The Savory Institute, Malmberg applies the practices of Holistic Planned Grazing to his lands and works with The Freshwater Trust to utilize more sustainable water management practices.

All of the grasslands of the world evolved with migrating herbivores mimicking how the grasslands evolved increases plant recovery periods resulting in more plant vigor, increased soil organic matter and carbon sequestration, increased plant diversity and plant density. All of these factors equal greater production. For example, all of Malmerg’s Beyond Organic Beef is exclusively grass fed and raised as part of this sustainable land and water management ecosystem, which also provides an economic output and contributes to the local economy.

Healing the Land

Grasslands, LLC operates globally and helps facilitate the acquisition, long-term management and restoration of grasslands using Holistic Management practices. Developed by Allan Savory of Savory Institute, one of Holistic Management’s processes –Holistic Planned Grazing–promotes the long-term planned movement of livestock. This takes into account factors that include the land, livestock, wildlife and water concerns.

Mimicking the natural relationship of herd animals to their grassland food sources, Holistic Planned Grazing relies on the cyclical effects of massive stomping and animal waste products and then planned recovery periods to allow grasses’ decay and regeneration. Optimally, the system enhances the soil quality of the managed lands, minimizing evaporation and runoff, and promoting water and carbon retention at a substantial rate, with three years of planned grazing increasing the soils organic matter by 1.5%.

A Natural Co-Existence

Malmberg’s mission here in Oregon encompasses the water on his property as well as the land. His property sees average precipitation of only 15-20 inches annually. In the cooler, wetter months, the full property is utilized by his planned system, with cattle herds complemented by alfalfa crops. In the hotter, drier months in Central Oregon, Malmberg lets a portion of his lands stockpile feed for winter grazing. This reduces the need for irrigation, which allows him to lease a portion of his water rights to The Freshwater Trust, where their quantified conservation efforts leverage innovative best practices to restore natural resources. This leaseback program helps landowners improve asset efficiency while restoring in-stream flow. By rethinking water rights and use, Malmberg is able to benefit economically while supporting stream health and fish habitat.

It’s no accident that Tony Malmberg has combined some of the most innovative conservation thinking with his lifetime of ranching. Constantly learning and exploring the relationships between land and water, habitat and inhabitants, Malmberg has partnered with organizations including Grasslands, LLC, The Freshwater Trust, The Natural Resource Conservation Service, local wildlife agencies and The Nature Conservancy to bring the best of modern conservation into practice on his working ranch lands.

Holistic range management practices shift the purpose of rangelands from short-term cattle production to long-term restoration of the grasslands, using properly managed livestock to heal the land. Pairing these goals with the voluntary water management incentives offered by programs like those of The Freshwater Trust has allowed him to build a sustainable, working ranch in Oregon that balances his short-term economic success with long-term environmental prosperity.