Gary and Nancy Fisher are third and fourth generation livestock producers who grew up in rural Nebraska. From parents,
grandparents and great-grandparents they inherited a love of the land and nature and an awareness of the importance of
good stewardship in the fragile environments that must be preserved for future generations. In 1989 they purchased the
1800 acre Ash Creek Ranch in the Pine Ridge region of western Nebraska. Because of the location and its relatively small
size, the ranch presented many challenges in making it a sustainable operation.
When Gary and Nancy purchased the ranch, 320 acres of it had been traditionally strip-cropped into winter wheat and
summer fallow. They have discontinued growing wheat and have planted nearly all of this farm ground back to native
grasses without the incentive of a Conservation Reserve Program. Even before these conservation efforts were in place,
the ranch could not produce enough hay for the number of cattle it could run. Hay is still put up on the ranch, but in a
limited quantity. To operate the ranch at its peak potential, the Fishers reluctantly sold their herd of brood cows and now
take cattle in for summer pasture. From the day the cattle arrive until the day they leave, the cattle are closely monitored
and managed, rotating pastures in keeping with good conservation practices.
From the beginning, noxious weed control has been one of the highest priorities. As new noxious weeds have been
identified, the weed control plan has been changed accordingly. Every year hundreds of hours are spent spraying leafy
spurge and Canada thistle and walking the canyons with a shovel, chopping out houndstongue, mullein and Scotch thistle.
Gary and Nancy have planted thousands of trees. choosing varieties of trees and shrubs that provide food and habitat for
many species of birds and animals. More than three miles of shelterbelts have been planted on the ranch.
Much of the heavily timbered areas of the ranch have been selectively logged with a goal of developing a healthier, more
fire resistant forest. Many areas of dense timber are thinned with a Bull Hog shredder to establish a healthier forest and
under story of grasses, forbes and shrubs that will increase the carrying capacity of the property and the quality of wildlife
habitat. Two storage reservoirs stocked with fish have been built that provide year round sources of water for cattle and
wildlife. The aquatic populations of plants and animals have attracted blue herons, kingfishers, ducks, and many other types
of wildlife. Three natural springs have been restored and a series of small dams have been built in two drainages.
In addition to establishing a sustainable and profitable ranching situation, the Fishers have worked to develop a beneficial
environment for wildlife. They have recognized that not allowing hunting as well as over-hunting can have a disastrous
effect on most species. A limited number of turkeys, deer and varmints are harvested on the ranch each year.
A MANAGED FOREST
SHELTERBELTS FOR WILDLIFE
WEST ASH CREEK
PRESERVATION FOR POSTERITY
Ash Creek, Inc. is a Nebraska Chapter S Corporation
|617 West Ash Creek Road, Crawford, NE 69339