Double C Cattle Company named regional winner of Environmental Stewardship Program

Drew Butler
The Coffey family of Double C Cattle Company in Springer was named regional winner of the National Cattleman's Beef Association Environmental Stewardship Award Program. From left to right: Chuck Coffey Ruth Coffey, Sarah Armitage, Seth Coffey, and Aaron Coffey holds Noah Coffey.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has named the Double C Cattle Company in Springer the Region IV winners of the Environmental Stewardship Award Program. Region IV is composed of Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas, and there are seven regions in the country. Next spring one of the regional winners will be named the national winner.

According to the NCBA’s website, the ESAP is now in its 30th year, and it is given to cattle producers who demonstrate outstanding stewardship practices and conservation achievements. Chuck Coffey, owner of the Double C Cattle Company, said some of the land management techniques he uses include prescribed burns and solar water systems.

Coffey said that controlled burns of grazing lands are critical to good land stewardship. While uncontrolled wildfires can be extremely dangerous and damaging, prescribed burning is extremely beneficial. He noted that fire was a natural part of the environment for thousands of years before settlers arrived.

“The plants that we have in our area have evolved under the influence of fire,” Coffey said. “By taking fire away, we now have the encroachment of invasive species like eastern red cedar in this part of the world and mesquite elsewhere. By bringing fire back into the picture, we can make the land more like it was originally before settlement.”

Coffey also said prescribed burns help prevent wildfires by preemptively burning the materials that could potentially accidentally ignite during times of drought.

Water — or the lack thereof — is another issue that ranchers must deal with. Coffey said ranching in the Arbuckles comes with its own set of issues, and because of those issues he has installed approximately 20 solar watering systems across his ranch.

“Water is definitely a limiting resource here in the Arbuckles because we can’t build ponds because of the rock,” he said. “So we’ve gone to drilling for water. We drill down for water and then install a submersible pump that runs off a set of solar panels. That water pumps into a trough, and then we make a little dig out next to the trough to manage the overflow.”

Coffey said he is honored to receive this recognition, but more importantly, he is happy to be preserving the land for future generations. He and his wife are fifth generation ranchers, his children are sixth generation, and his grandchildren are the seventh.

“It’s really all about land, livestock and legacy,” Coffey said.

The Coffey family and their ranch will be featured in a segment on the television show Cattlemen to Cattlemen on the network RFD TV tonight at 7:30 p.m. The show will also feature segments on the winners of the six other regions. The winner of the national award will be announced in the spring of 2021.