Ranch Ecology

A system approach to manage the land 

Our goal is to maintain and foster biodiversity, so that we not only increase the quality of life for the flora and fauna surrounding us, but also to benefit from the ecological services of a healthy system. We believe appropriate ranching practices can restore land health and how we use it today will determine the conditions of the land we pass to the next generation. We collaborate with a diverse group of specialists to understand and restore the ecology of the ranch. Our ecological monitoring program includes pollinator and bird surveys, vegetation assessments, groundwater and climate monitoring.  

Our work includes:

Water Management

Groundwater hydrology studies are performed at Twin Willows biannually. These studies measure groundwater table height to compare levels on a year-by-year basis. 



Riparian Restoration

Twin Willows Ranch has actively worked on the restoration of the Lefebre creek.  

Using the science of fluvial-geomorphology, there has been creek crossings carefully installed to ensure natural flow and low disturbance to the riparian ecosystem. 

Additionally, riparian areas have been excluded from the rotational grazing program in order to speed the recovery of wetland vegetation.

Vegetation Monitoring

Since 2012, Twin Willows has been monitoring the vegetation species diversity of the ranch. For two consecutive years, the ranch was a site of the Denver Zoo biodiversity monitoring. Later on, in 2016, building upon plot locations from those monitoring efforts, eleven modified Withaker plots were established. Continuing with this methodology, two more plots were installed in 2018.  Plots were located in different soil  and habitat types on the ranch, as both of them have a great deal to do with plant community composition. Each year, the vegetation monitoring is perfomed by a scientist during spring and fall.

Based on these years of monitoring data, an extensive plant species list has been developed as well as annual reports. Currently, there has been  251 plant species from 50 different plant families identified at Twin Willows Ranch. 


“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect”

Aldo Leopold

Rotational grazing

Using the land in a sustainable way while having healthy animals are an important part of our thinking and work. We’ve implemented this practice, rotational grazing, which consist of moving our cattle to different areas of the ranch. These areas are carefully selected, as well as the timing. 


Forest Thinning

For several years, the ranch has been working on proper forest thinning. We battle a dry climate and the constant threat of fires because the forests are extremely dense and therefore highly combustible. This density occurred as a result of heavy logging in the 50s, after which all the trees grew back at the same age. To complicate matters even further, available water and soil nutrients can no longer support the thick mass of trees that currently make up the forest.


+1 (575) 666-2028


179 CR 08, Ocate, NM, 87734