Kopriva Angus and the Kopriva family of Raymond, S.D., were honored with one of seven regional Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) awards. The honorees, announced during the 2015 Cattle Industry Summer Conference, were recognized for their outstanding stewardship practices. This year’s regional winners will compete for the national award, which will be announced during the 25th anniversary celebration in January 2016.
ESAP is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation, and is presented to farmers and ranchers who demonstrate a commitment to protecting the farm and ranch land in their care.
Kopriva Angus is owned and operated by Jim and Karen Kopriva and their children, Angela and Lee. This commercial and registered Black Angus and hay operation is located in northeast South Dakota on the eastern edge of the James River valley and the western edge of the Coteau Hills. Jim and Lee are responsible for ranch operations which include 370 cows and approximately 2,700 acres. The Koprivas are focused on a sustainable approach to their family cattle operation. They not only dedicate themselves to sustaining native grasslands, pasture, and hay land they manage, they are also committed to creating a sustainable future for the next generations.
Rotational grazing has been key to maximizing production at Kopriva Angus. The Koprivas worked with NRCS to install more than 20,000 feet of cross fencing, which has allowed them to better manage their forage resources and implement a rotational grazing program.
“The main part of our grazing scheme is to always have acres of the operation resting, not getting grazed,” said Lee Kopriva. “If you have the ability through fencing and water development to focus a group of cows in an area of the pasture and then graze it, and then move them to another area and rest the area that you previously grazed, that really is beneficial.”
One of the practices of Kopriva Ranch is to use items that would otherwise go to waste, such as seed for cover crops. They create an inviting habitat for wildlife with their dams and dugouts, providing cover and water for birds, amphibians, deer, and other mammals and insects.
"It’s fun to see the wildlife, and I think that shows that if it’s good for the ecosystem, it’s good for the ranch,” said Angela Brown, who explained that the family has made a tradition of sustainability, hoping to make certain the ranch is viable for future generations.
“I hope that it continues to grow. I hope that we continue to learn from our stewardship decisions,” she said. “I certainly hope that it will continue to be the family operation that it is today.”
Source: National Cattlemen's Beef Association