The Selman Ranch was first settled in the late 1800?s by J.O. Selman the great-grandfather of the current occupants Sue Selman and her two sons. The ranch has never left the family and has been placed in a trust for the protection of the property for future Selman generations. The ranch itself sits along the Cimarron River in eastern Harper County in northwestern Oklahoma just east of the town Selman (named for the family) and contains over 14,000 acres of land.
The ranch was settled for the purpose of grazing cattle on the abundant grassland in the area. Cattle have grazed there since the first days of settlement, but it has been the practice of the family to never over graze and that tradition continues and can be observed when compared to other ranch properties in the region. Large swaths of mixed grass prairie containing little bluestem, buffalo grass and other natives are abundant. Sandsage brush is also abundant, which is why Lesser Prairie Chickens can be found booming here in the early spring. With the increasingly encroaching wind farms in the region as well as other sources of habitat fragmentation it is necessary to identify large swaths of native prairie that will support the LPCH, the Selman Ranch is exactly this. Fence marking conducted by the Sutton Avian Research Center was performed in order to protect the prairie chickens from fence collisions, which was shown to be a significant contributor to mortality. With the Selman?s continued cooperation this land will serve as foothold for the eastern limits of this critically threatened species these grasses also provide ample habitat and cover for a large population of Northern Bobwhites, a species in decline across much of its range, which speaks for the quality of the habitat.
Not only does the ranch contain large tracts of native grasses, but it is also divided by a number of spring fed streams and creeks. Sleeping Bear, Buffalo, and Sand Creeks all intersect the ranch land. Along these streams are large stands of old cottonwoods that harbor Warbling Vireos, three species of orioles, numerous sparrows, Eastern Screech-Owls and various other species throughout the year. These stream meander through the ranch and eventually end up spilling into the Cimarron River. Other habitats on the ranch include beaver ponds and cattail marshes, as well as small mesquite stands that attract species such as Ladder-backed Woodpecker and Ash-throated Flycatcher at their eastern distributional limits.
The Cimarron River and its floodplain add another significant habitat type to this lands repertoire. There is a large salt flat that encompasses approximately a mile and a half of river bottom. These flats are consistently home to large breeding populations of the federally endangered Interior Least Tern and an Oklahoma Category II species the Snowy Plover. During the spring and fall migration, shorebirds are also abundant with sightings of Dunlin, Western Sandpipers, and Baird?s Sandpipers. Research is being conducted on nearly the entire ranch. The Selman?s continually provide support to researchers so there property is well surveyed. Most species of concern (LPCH, LETE) are being monitored and a substantial amount of habitat work is continually be performed.