The winners of the BC Cattlemen’s Association (BCCA) 2020 ranch sustainability award own Woodjam Ranch in Horsefly.
“We are very honoured,” said Ricky Seelhof, who along with her husband, Chad, and help from their children Riata, 14, Cooper, 13, and Renee, 10, manage the 2,122-acre ranch. “It is is something a lot of ranchers strive for and when you get recognized for it, it’s very nice.”
Originally from Saskatchewan, they were both raised on ranch farms.
They moved to Horsefly 17 years ago and purchased part of a ranch, and in 2014 purchased the rest from Chad’s parents — Ellie and Louis Seelhof.
While Ellie and Louie are retired, they help out part-time where needed, Ricky said.
After participating in a tour of Woodjam Ranch last spring during the BCCA annual general meeting, held in Williams Lake, Alexis Creek ranchers Al and Bev Madley were inspired to nominate the Seelhofs for the award.
“When we saw firsthand the efforts they have made to do the right thing for sustainable ranching, for the industry and for their own family, we were very impressed,” Madley told the Tribune. “They have shown commitment, leadership, and have quietly put a lot of work to make their family ranch operation environmentally sound.”
He said they were proud to see them win the award and is certain the Seelhofs will go on to win at the Canadian Cattlemen’s level.
“We congratulate them,” he added.
The Madleys are past recipients of the award.
In announcing the award, the BCCA noted the Seelhofs were recognized for their outstanding commitment to sustainability as demonstrated by their generational values of environmental stewardship, their extensive commitment to protecting the many waterways and fish habitats in the 16 tributary creeks on the ranch, their range management, grass health and commitment to sharing the landscape with wildlife.
Photographs included in the announcement displayed stream bank restoration and riparian fencing along waterways and off-stream stock watering efforts on the ranch.
“Ranchers put in a lot of time and effort to get their operations functioning properly. To have someone acknowledge our efforts means a lot,” said Chad during a virtual award announcement of the award held Tuesday.
Ricky said they love the ranching lifestyle.
“It is very diverse here because of all the different species of wildlife, but it is also the fun part. We have fish-bearing streams, wolves, bears and different kinds of birds such as long-billed curlews and grouse.”
Making sure they are managing that diversity to ensure everyone has a habit is a challenge they enjoy.
All of the rain has caused some flooding on the ranch and on Tuesday she said the water was coming up again.
“Everything is so wet right now,” she added.
The Seelhofs raise mostly black angus cattle and Ricky is also the chair of the public affairs and education committee for the BCCA.