Originally published by The Colorado Sun


From getting the folks at Audubon to certify the ranch as bird-friendly, to selling carbon sequestration credits for the tall grass, the May Ranch near Lamar is modernizing stewardship.

LAMAR — The day that Dallas May started to feel his family ranch’s fortunes solidify, after more than 40 years of raising cattle, was the day he got in his pickup to chase what appeared to be two poachers carrying weapons the size of rocket launchers.

It turned out they were international bird experts from Cornell University’s famed ornithology lab, cradling enormous spotting scopes and hoping to see the elusive black rail.

Word was out that while rising seas and hurricanes ravage the birds’ East Coast habitat, the threatened species was cooling it in marshes and ponds that break up 15,000 acres of May Ranch’s dryland operation. People were apparently willing to journey to a dusty corner of Colorado to pay homage to his eco-friendly land management that avoids plowing and employs animals as recycling ruminants.

“We were not trespassing, but we were close,” laughed Andrew Farnsworth, senior research associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

May, 63, can’t always see a solvent future for the sprawling, drought-exposed, multi-generational ranch in the Lower Arkansas Valley. Maybe that’s OK — you rarely actually see the black rail, either. The most experienced birders check the black rail box on their life lists simply by hearing the birds’ distinctive chitter call.

But if the Mays can piece together all the available evidence that their environmentally progressive property has value, he and his family can sleep at night. It’s an emerging way of ranching and farming, one that recognizes preservation of habitat amid global climate change can bring income and survival.

The Mays run a biology lab as much as they run a ranch.

Read the story here: coloradosun.com/2021/12/05/audubon-certified-beef-colorado-ranch-sustainability-climate-change/