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Prairie-to-Plate Philosophy Drives Bird-Friendly Management at North Dakota’s Paul Ranch

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Carson, N.D. — More than 60 miles southwest of Bismarck, the Paul Ranch spreads over 6,700 acres of high-quality, mixed-grass prairie. Owned and operated by Daniel and Tresa Paul and their children David and Denver Paul, the ranch, one of the initial ranches enrolled in the National Audubon Society’s Conservation Ranching program, is celebrating five years as an Audubon Certified bird-friendly habitat.

Brothers David and Denver are the sixth generation to hold the ranch’s reigns, both versed in the rotational grazing ways that make their family’s native prairie so desirable for grassland birds. They are relaunching Wild Prairie Beef, a direct-to-consumer meat business, to bring their own stewardship story to consumers looking to support conservation.

“Protecting prairie birds is a passion for our family,” David Paul said, “With our regenerative grazing approach, birds and beef are directly connected. Our cattle are habitat helpers, moved about our prairie like native bison once roamed.”

The results, says Charlene Kohler Prodzinski, a Range Ecologist for Audubon Great Plains, make the Paul Ranch well-suited to numerous grassland bird species. “Rotational grazing mimics nature’s way of creating grassland bird habitat, whereby strategically grazing cattle, we create different layers of vegetation for bird species and their varying needs.” At the Paul Ranch, this includes multilayers that benefit Grasshopper Sparrows, Long-billed Curlews, Upland Sandpipers, and Western Meadowlarks. Notably, the Paul Ranch owns the highest number of Chestnut-collared Longspurs recorded across any Audubon Certified bird-friendly ranch habitat.

Chestnut-collared Longspur. Photo: Joshua Galicki/Audubon Photography Awards

The Paul Ranch earned the Audubon bird-friendly certification through the Audubon Conservation Ranching program, continually meeting all program requirements centered on habitat management, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare. The Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal recognizes lands managed for birds and biodiversity.

With Wild Prairie Beef, the Pauls’ strategy is simple: Get to know ’em. “We want customers to be truly connected to conservation on our ranch, to us, our cattle, and the meals on their plates.”

The Pauls accept deposits for orders on the Wild Prairie Beef website and ship nationwide. They are also running a launch promotion for a 20 lb. prairie burger box giveaway, a $323 value.

For more information about Audubon Conservation Ranching, please contact [email protected].

About Audubon Conservation Ranching

A wildlife habitat initiative of the National Audubon Society with a unique market connection, Audubon Conservation Ranching aims to stabilize declining grassland bird populations in partnership with ranchers – on whose land 95 percent of grassland birds live. Audubon Conservation Ranching’s enrollment includes over 100 ranches and nearly 3 million acres that have earned status as Audubon Certified bird-friendly land. Incentivizing this habitat work for birds and biodiversity are consumers with an appetite for conservation, who support it by purchasing products grazed on these lands. Shoppers see a special package designation – the Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal – that sets these products apart. For more information, visit www.audubon.org/ranching.

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