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Stewardship accolades: Padlock Ranch hosts Environmental Stewardship Tour

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Ranchester – With over 200 people in attendance, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA), Wyoming Department of Agriculture and Montana Stock Growers Association (MSGA) jointly held the Environmental Stewardship Tour on July 9, recognizing Padlock Ranch for its excellence in improving landscapes, maintaining an operational cattle ranch and striving for continued improvement.

“Successful ranches enable the community to continue to have vast amounts of open space that would otherwise be used for uses that would not enhance water and air quality, wildlife habitat and provide recreational opportunities to the public,” said Wayne Fahsholtz, president and CEO of Padlock Ranch. “When I came here 10 years ago, we really had the opportunity to look at our practices and decide what we needed to do to have as good a ranch as we could and to grow as much grass as possible.”

Padlock Ranch and Wayne and Judi Fahsholtz received the 2013 Leopold Conservation Award, presented by Sand County Foundation, and the MSGA Environmental Stewardship Award. In addition, MSGA and WSGA will be jointly nominating the ranch for the National Environmental Stewardship Award presented by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Ranch management

Since Homer and Mildred Scott purchased Padlock Ranch in 1943, the initial 3,000-acre ranch has grown to encompass over 500,000 acres on the Wyoming-Montana border. 

Today, they operate their sustainable, profitable cattle operation raising natural beef. 

“Padlock Ranch is in its fourth generation of Scott Family ownership,” commented Jim Scott. “Homer and Mildred Scott moved to Sheridan from Nebraska in 1936 and founded this ranch six years later.”

The ranch, continued Scott, is in the hearts of the more than 80 offspring and spouses of Homer and Mildred.

“Everyone here is a valuable part of our team,” says Fahsholtz. “We all work together to make it a really great place.”

Fahsholtz works closely with Chief Operations Officer Trey Patterson, Assistant Operations Manager Les Nunn, Controller Stephen Severe, Farm Manager Greg Benzel and Officer Manager Lisa Hanson, as well as the Board of Directors, to accomplish the goals of the operation.

Business operation

“The Padlock is a business,” said Scott. “We’ve tried to apply the best business practices on the ranch.”

In the early 2000s, the family organized a Board of Directors to include independent board members. The Board developed their strategic plan and developed a concrete purpose for the ranch.

“The Padlock is a legacy for our family and everyone associated with the ranch,” he explained. “That legacy includes not just the past, but everything that happens in the present and in the future.”

As part of their lasting legacy, they focus on five primary elements: financial excellence, excellent people, natural resource sustainability, community leadership and family.

“We can’t have a sustainable ranch without having excellent financial performance,” Scott explained. “It provides us the discipline to make decisions.”

He also noted that Homer focused on surrounding himself with good people.

“Our dad used to say he was of average intelligence, but he was successful by surrounding himself with people smarter than he was,” Scott said. “Dad was a great selector of people and winning these awards is a testament that the ranch is still attracting excellent people.”

Fahsholtz noted he strives to work with good people to preserve the integrity of the operation.

Natural resources sustainability, Scott continued, is also important for continuing the legacy of ranch and the ability to pass it forward.

“We understand that our responsibility is to pass this land and pass it on in as good or better shape than we found it,” Scott mentioned.

They also focus on being leaders in their community and within the industry, aiming to positively impact more than just their immediate surroundings.

“The fifth element is that the ranch is a family emblem and a source of pride and cohesion in our family,” said Scott. “Our family is getting larger and more complex, and our goal is to have this ranch be a source of cohesion.”

Environmental honors

In honor of the Environmental Stewardship award and tour, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead also proclaimed July 9 as Wyoming Environmental Stewardship day.

Additionally, the Scott family was presented with an award on behalf of the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust for Dan Scott’s involvement and dedication to the organization and preservation of lands in Wyoming. The Scott family and Padlock Ranch support the land trust extensively.

Awards and letters were presented on behalf of Senators John Barrasso and Mike Enzi, Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“Congratulations to the Scott family and Wayne and Judi Fahsholtz on winning these awards,” added WSGA President Jim Wilson.

For more information on the ranch operations, check out the article in the Jan. 5, 2013 edition of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup titled, “Padlock Ranch named winner of 2013 Environmental Stewardship Award.”

Stream restoration

The Tongue River runs through the Padlock Ranch near ranch headquarters in Ranchester, and Ranch CEO and President Wayne Fahsholtz explained that extensive river restoration work has taken place.

“This stream was full of tires and old cars,” said Fahsholtz. “We’ve put rocks in their place.”

Cheryl Harrelson of Steady Stream Hydrology in Sheridan explained, “So many ranches start working in the hills and build, divide streams, put in cattle and do a lot of work without regard for what happens to the river. Progressive ranches, like the Padlock, start at their river and work out.”

The work done in the Tongue River on Padlock Ranch helps stream flows and create trout habitat.

“They have narrowed the channel, deepened the pools and maintained sediment transport with these rock structures,” commented Harrelson. “This is a really innovative way to work on streams, and it is more cost effective in the long run.”

“We can have multiple use streams and have viable ranches,” she added.


Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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