George Whitten, San Juan and Blue Range Ranch
George Whitten and his wife, Julie Sullivan, manage and operate the San Juan Ranch and Blue Range Ranches near Saguache, Co. Since 1985, George has worked as a ranch consultant. His numerous consulting contracts as a range management and grazing specialist, are based on his Holistic approach to rangeland and soil health on irrigated land. He actively works with several Farmers and Ranchers in Colorado and New Mexico to reintroduce grazing animals to farmland to improve soil biology and overall profitability for both enterprises.
George is the founding member and forage manager for the Sweet Grass Coop. He has worked with Coleman Natural Beef as a supplier of Certified Organic Beef through OCIA ( Organic Crop Improvement Association ) before current USDA standards were adopted. George served the San Luis Valley farming and ranching for 18 years, as a board member and President of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District. He retired from the board in 2014 to devoted more time to his ranching passion.
He has given numerous presentations about land management practices that are holistic in nature and benefit people, land and animals. George’s operation as served as the host ranch and mentor for Quivira Coalition, New Agrarian Program from 2003 to present. This program embraces young farmers and ranchers, by giving them both insight and experience in operating a working ranch.
George has received numerous awards over the years for innovative grazing and land practices, these include: 2013 October Edition of Society for Range Management article, Strategic Management for Complex Systems; 2006 Clarence Burch Award, Quivira Coalition, Santa Fe NM; 2003 Leopold Award Finalist; Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Sand County Foundation
His philosophy and ethic has been the subject of numerous articles about the work he has done. These include a feature on the family ranch in the book The Last Ranch: A Colorado Community and the Coming Desert, Pantheon, New York, 1996. His work has also been featured in newspapers and other media, including: Santa Fe New Mexican, Los Angeles Times, Headwaters, High Country News, Intelligent Life (publication of The Economist). Most recently he was featured in November 2014 edition of National Geographic, article entitled, Carnivores Dilemma, part of a series of articles on food production and sustainability. He was also named the 1990 Conservationist of the year, Center Soil Conservation District.