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Park City Community Foundation awards a three-year $75,000 climate impact grant to a Peoa ranching operation

Mitch Dumke Three Springs Land and Lievestock
Mitch Dumke
Mitch Dumke Three Springs Land and Livestock

The Park City Community Foundation has announced the latest recipients of its high-impact climate grant.

Mitch Dumke, one of three partners with Three Springs Land and Livestock, was a vegetarian working in the tech industry before he got into ranching. Now, he’s part of a ranch operation focused on regenerative agriculture to restore ecology, and create a healthy local food source.

"What we're leasing from someone is only 40 acres, and collectively, we came together with three other ranches in terms of this request, partly because of that collective impact instead of us being one request for a small amount of land. We collectively came together as four ranches, and we have just under 800 acres under management."

Three Springs Land and Livestock, based in Peoa, just received a $25,000 grant from the community foundation for its sustainable ranching efforts. They’ll receive another $50,000 over the next two years as they build their ranching operation. Their efforts include minimizing or avoiding chemicals, fertilizers and, using large equipment for tilling.

"In this case, we're focused specifically on livestock management and how the management of those animals can create a healthier ecosystem and ultimately to the fund, sequester carbon. That was the primary goal and outcome of the fund, and that was sort of the focus of our grant."

Dumke said unsustainable agriculture and ranching are harmful to soil ecology and the environment.

"A lot of our vegetable and other food crop production is done in a way that's unsustainable as well. That's also eroding topsoil and creating a lot of pollution. And a lot of times comes from a monoculture farm, where it's just soybeans, and that is just as detrimental as a cow can be."

Dumke said they follow the general principles of regenerative agricultural and ranching practices when managing livestock and land.

 "One big one is minimizing soil disturbance when you drive down the road you see a fresh tilled ground piece of ground you think oh look that rich soil if you drive back three days later it looks crust it up and dry, and so we try not to tear up the soil we keep it undisturbed because underneath that soil is a whole system of life."

Crop diversity, using animals rather than large equipment to till the land and rotating grazing so plants can restore and hold soil and water are among the sustainable ranching practices the partners utilize.

"So, if you let a cow munch on a piece of grass, that's fine. Just don't let it munch it again because then they're going to kill it. But if you let it munch at once, and then you give it 100 days to regrow, that's photosynthesis. That's carbon sequestration."

This year, the community foundation allocated over $150,000 in grants to climate initiatives, including Tree Utah, Recycle Utah, EATS Park City, and the student-led Re-Uniform project to reduce waste by reusing sports uniforms.

Vice President of Equity and Impact Diego Zegarra said the foundation had awarded $530,000 in Summit County climate projects grants.

"We continue to hope for those high-impact projects that we can fund, so we invite community members, nonprofits, businesses to come and work with us and partner on their big ideas so that we can continue working towards a more sustainable community."

You can find more information about the Park City climate Fund on parkcitycf.org.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.