Centennial Valley, Montana USA

Centennial Valley, Montana

Ami Vitale

Montana, USA. Ongoing Project

The J Bar L ranch in the Centennial Valley of southern Montana is among a handful of conservation-friendly ranches dotting the wide-open land of the American West. The valley, in the southwest corner of the state, is largely owned by a handful of large ranches, whose use of the land impacts the local environment.

The J Bar L feeds its cattle on grass, in contrast to the vast majority of ranches in the U.S. that send cattle to feedlots. The 2,000 head at J Bar L “never go into a feedlot,” said Bryan Ulring, manager of the ranch, who added that the J Bar L is one of the biggest grass finishers in the state.

In addition to feeding its cattle on grass rather than feed, the J Bar L takes a more humane approach to its horses. Libby Ulring, their trainer, practices and teaches gentle, natural horsemanship. Riders are encouraged to get to know the horse and let it lead them, rather than kicking and provoking the horse.

Centennial Valley, not far from Yellowstone National Park, is an important wildlife corridor for elk, moose, antelope, deer, wolverines, grizzly bears, wolves and hundreds of bird species.