Audubon Certification Touts S W Lasater Ranch in Colorado as Beacon for Grassland Birds

Rotational grazing is key to creating a patchwork of habitat for birds

Matheson, Colo. (March 5, 2024) — The National Audubon Society is proud to announce the S W Lasater Ranch, nestled near Matheson, Colorado, and owned and operated by Sally Lasater, has achieved distinction as an Audubon Certified bird-friendly habitat. With the land certification earned through Audubon’s Conservation Ranching program, the Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal can be used on packaging and in the promotion of beef products from the ranch, signifying their origin on land managed for birds and biodiversity.

The Audubon Conservation Ranching program represents the organization's most expansive grassland habitat initiative. It is a collaborative effort between Audubon and ranchers addressing the steep decline in grassland bird populations over the last 50-plus years. Over 100 ranches, spanning nearly 3 million acres nationwide, are managed for birds as Audubon Certified bird-friendly lands, having met program requirements centering on habitat management, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare. This includes 15 ranches and a combined 614,000 bird-friendly acres in Colorado.

Situated in Elbert County on the eastern high plains at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the S W Lasater Ranch consists of predominantly native grassland habitat. Sally Lasater adopted a ranching philosophy from her parents that focuses on partnering with nature.

She uses careful management, adjusting cattle numbers to forage conditions as the cattle graze in a rotational pattern that encourages plant diversity, minimizes overgrazing and undergrazing, and leaves seed stock and food behind for other living organisms that share the habitat. To protect birds and other wildlife, plant life, microbial life, insects, soil life, and the watershed, Lasater uses no pesticides, insecticides, or herbicides. She uses biocontrol methods where possible to address invasive plant species.

"Supporting nature's intelligence and diversity is more important than ever as our climate changes, eastern Colorado becomes drier, and the accelerating loss of species and habitat continues here and elsewhere throughout the world," she said.

Dusty Downey, Conservation Ranching Director for Audubon Rockies, Audubon’s regional office, says it’s hard to overstate how important well-managed rotational grazing is for grassland birds.

"Rotational grazing mimics nature's way of making grasslands diverse, resilient, and optimal for birds,” he said. He notes rotational grazing is exceptional at creating different layers of vegetation for bird species and their varying habitat requirements. “Short periods of high-intensity grazing create patches of short vegetation crucial for species like the Ferruginous Hawk, Long-billed Curlew, and Burrowing Owl. Meanwhile, pastures protected from grazing provide taller vegetation structures supporting species like the Vesper Sparrow, Lark Bunting, and Loggerhead Shrike."

For more information about Audubon Conservation Ranching in Colorado, please contact Dusty Downey. For information in other states, reach out to

About Audubon Conservation Ranching

A wildlife habitat initiative of the National Audubon Society with a unique market connection, Audubon Conservation Ranching aims to stabilize declining grassland bird populations in partnership with ranchers – on whose land 95 percent of grassland birds live. Audubon Conservation Ranching’s enrollment includes over 100 ranches and nearly 3 million acres that have earned status as Audubon Certified bird-friendly land. Incentivizing this habitat work for birds and biodiversity are consumers with an appetite for conservation, who support it by purchasing products grazed on these lands. Shoppers see a special package designation – the Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal – that sets these products apart. For more information, visit