Until the Cows Come Home: Sixth-gen Nevada cattle ranchers pass down legacy of land stewardship

The Fulstone Family’s sixth generation is working hard to make environmental stewardship a cornerstone of their Nevada cattle operation as its seventh generation learn the ropes, preparing to take the helm of the family’s ranching legacy.

Dating all the way back to 1856, The Fulstone Family has dedicated their time to raising livestock rooting themselves into their plot of Nevada land for generation after generation.

The Fulstone Family become synonymous with ranching excellence and environmental stewardship. Today, their ranch in Smith Valley, Nevada, thrives with the combined efforts of the family’s sixth and seventh generations whose work goes far beyond the boundaries of their cattle operation.

“I go out, and I look in the Bodie Hills where I’m running these cattle—and the air is clean; the water is clean; the land is healthy, and it’s being utilized in a very functional way,” said sixth-generation Nevadan Stephen Fulstone, expressing his deep connection to the land.

Stephen, along with his sister, Annette Fulstone, are running this ranching dynasty together as siblings, and passing on their passion and knowledge to the seventh generation. Annette spoke with pride about her niece, Emily, who represents the young generation bringing fresh and innovative ideas to their traditional way of life.

The Fulstone Ranches raises a mix of Angus and Hereford cross cattle, grazing on the Eastern Slope of the Sierra Mountains and the border of California and Nevada. Their cattle play a crucial role in maintaining the health of the ecosystem.

Over the past 15 years, the Fulstone family has embarked on several habitat restoration projects, including the removal of pinion and juniper trees. This strategic move has raised the water table, allowing more grasses and shrubs to thrive. These efforts have not only benefited their cattle but have also contributed to the preservation of the sage grouse habitat, a native wildlife species.

One notable project involved the restoration of a head cut in a meadow. By implementing innovative techniques, including a felt liner and rock lining, they successfully rejuvenated the landscape from a washed-out creek bed to a flourishing meadow with consistent water flow.

The Fulstone Family’s vision for the future is clear—they aim to continue their regenerative practices to ensure sustainability in every aspect of their operation.

Annette speaks to the future they envision as a family of ranchers, saying: “Better food, better environment, better waterways, better air, a better future.”

They believe their cattle, play a crucial role in achieving these goals by providing a source of high-quality protein while preserving the delicate balance of the land they call home.

In the eyes of the Fulstone Family, their ranching legacy is not just a livelihood but a responsibility to protect and nurture the land for generations to come.

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