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The fence along the creek is low enough for wildlife to hop. The grass that grows along the banks provides cover for smaller animals. The grass is also slowing the creek's flow, which helps slow erosion, Kellogg said.

"Watersheds are like a tree that branches out as you go upstream," Kellogg said. "If we improve water quality on tributaries like Bitter Creek, we're going to improve the Missouri."

It also was expensive to have cattle along the creek.

During the years the cattle huddled along the creek, Cortez Mens Shoes they were degrading it.

Oedekoven's next project is a pipeline to transport water to the cattle's summer pasture. He's working with Kellogg on it. He's been hauling water since he installed the fence and cut off Bitter Creek from the cattle.

"There's some interest in Platte, Crook and Albany counties," Kellogg said.

Their foot traffic caused erosion. Their grazing depleted grasses along the creek. Their waste made the water toxic.

Windbreaks traditionally are rows of trees. But trees grow slowly in eastern Wyoming. Kellogg, who was working with Oedekoven on the improvements, borrowed an idea that his colleagues in South Dakota were using: steel Nike Cortez Red White Blue

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The windbreak looks harsh and unnatural, but Oedekoven installed it with the help of the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service for environmental purposes. Nike Cortez Black Total Crimson

Wyoming rancher's fence and metal windbreak help protect water flowing toward Yellowstone River

"A lot of people don't understand how hard it is to keep cattle Nike Cortez Quilted

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In 2009, he installed the fence. The total cost was $35,000. The Farm Service Agency paid 90 percent of the cost. Department of Agriculture that administers programs for farmers and ranchers. In this case, the money came from the FSA, and the conservation service provided technical work, such as the design of the fence, Kellogg said.

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alive," Oedekoven said. "We struggle from birth to feed lot."We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters.

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RECLUSE For years, when the unrelenting wind swept over the high prairie, the cattle on Jason Oedekoven's ranch huddled together along Bitter Creek.

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These days, fencing lines 4,000 feet of the creek, and the Homestead Herefords huddle behind a 9 foot tall windbreak made of 20 gauge steel.

But without the creek for shelter, the cattle needed a windbreak.

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The fence and windbreak are tangible symbols of Oedekoven's attempt to improve the water quality.


Oedekoven's windbreak was the first of eight installed on ranches in Campbell County. Thirteen more are planned.

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As the cattle seek its shelter instead of stamping into nearby Bitter Creek, the creek returns to its natural state and provides better quality water on Oedekoven's ranch and downstream.

The NCRS offered financial assistance for about 75 percent of the cost, Kellogg said.

Oedekoven said he lost five to 10 calves a year when they fell into the water and drowned. The calves are worth at least $500 per head.

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Bitter Creek is a tributary of the Powder River, which flows into the Yellowstone River. The Yellowstone flows into the Missouri River. As Oedekoven improves his portion of one small creek, people hundreds of miles away benefit from cleaner water. Specifically, there is less erosion and bacteria from cattle manure, said Tim Kellogg, a district conservationist for the NRCS, who helped Oedekoven with the Bitter Creek improvements.

"I've got pheasant and deer that use that creek," said Oedekoven, who explained that wildlife stayed away when cattle ruled.

Oedekoven's windbreak is V shaped and set at a 90 degree angle, with the point facing the prevailing wind. Each side is 80 feet long.

"Jason has this philosophy of continuous improvement," Kellogg said. "Most ranchers want to pass land on better than it was when they got it."

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