Path Home Shows 2017 Show Archive April 2017 Show 1714 Hal Clark - Ag Environmental Stewardship

Hal Clark - Ag Environmental Stewardship

Hal Clark has spent a lifetime raising cattle in the wide-open spaces and bitter extremes of our state’s panhandle.
Hal Clark - Ag Environmental Stewardship

Hal Clark - Ag Environmental Stewardship

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Show Details

Show 1714: Hal Clark - Ag Environmental Stewardship
Air Date: April 2, 2017

 

Transcript

Rob McClendon: If you have ever ventured into our state’s Panhandle, you know it is a land of wide-open spaces and bitter extremes, and while harsh, it is a landscape that Hal Clark has spent a lifetime taming. At 84 years of age, Mr. Clark still checks cows and fences with a smile on his face, despite the fact just months before we visited, he had gotten trampled. Our Blane Singletary introduces us.

Blane Singletary: Hal Clark is a man of the land.

Hal Clark: It’s just the nature and being outside, working the livestock and trying to grow grass and run cattle, and our wildlife we have here too. It’s just good being with nature.

Blane: Clark takes pride in the Panhandle ranch land that’s been in his family for three generations. And that goes hand in hand with his pride in his history and heritage.

Clark: My grandfather came to the valley here. He worked for a ranch in Kansas, southwest Kansas, and then came to the valley here in 1877.

Blane: His grandfather worked for the Muscatine Cattle Co. and later bought the remainder of their herd and carried the brand into the next century. Hal would take the helm of managing the Clark Ranch after he graduated from Texas Tech in 1953 and married his wife, Pat.

Clark: It was quite unusual to bring a city gal from Oklahoma City out here in the middle of the drought of the early ’50s – 1950 was when we got married.

Blane: A drought not unlike the one that led up to the Dust Bowl just 20 years earlier.

Clark: We went through some difficult times there but she was enduring, and she must have had a good feeling for sustainability because she stayed with me.

Blane: It’s a focus on sustainability that Hal kept with him to prevent another Dust Bowl from happening.

Clark: Sustainability, that’s quite a buzzword that so many people have been trying to define. Sustainability is to endure, but not to interfere with the future generations. And I think that, to me, explains the whole situation for sustainability.

Blane: That simple definition became his mantra and directs his farming practices to this day.

Clark: We run an Angus herd, and we have utilized a lot of rotational grazing. Because of the droughty conditions, it’s, so many times it’s hard to have enough grass. The rotational grazing is the way that nature worked with the buffalo herds. They would graze off all of it and then move on and let the grass regrow.

Blane: Hal and his family focused on conserving soil, probably the most important resource a rancher has, by keeping a strategic vegetative across the land, which protects the soil from the wind and, while it hasn’t been all that common lately, the rain, too. And that’s not all he’s done.

Clark: We built a lot of structures here. We’ve got a lot of impoundment dams and some spreader dikes, which we can kind of utilize when we do get a hard rain. We can try to control the water better either impound it in a series of dams or to have an area like the field in front of us that we can spread the water out to water the field.

Blane: His efforts didn’t go unnoticed. In 1966, he was elected to the Cimarron County Conservation District board of directors where he still serves to this day. In the 50 years since then, Clark and his fellow commissioners oversaw the adoption of several new pieces of policy as well as technology. Among his many accolades and accomplishments, he says he’s especially proud of the county conservation building they established in Boise City.

Clark: That has worked out really well because it belongs to the producers out there, it belongs to the farmers and ranchers. That’s really what I always try to do, is to see things get accomplished.

Blane: Today, Hal still tries to spend as much time on the ranch as he can, though most of the day-to-day operations are handled by Charlie, a man who’s worked with his family on the ranch for over two decades. Hal’s goal, just as he said about sustainability, is to keep his ranch thriving for his surviving daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Clark: Every day is precious. And I’m so blessed every morning to be able to get up, feel good and to know that the Lord is here and that I can go see Pat and be with her. I just wish I could get her out more.

Blane: Hal Clark says stewardship of the land is an integral responsibility of any landowner. And there’s not a thing Hal won’t do to keep his land thriving.

Clark: Why not? If we can improve the land and nature and what we are being sustained with for future generations and produce more crops, we feed the world, and that’s important for our export market and for us to be the breadbasket and be profitable and good stewards of the land.