Don and Rosemary Johnson of North Platte, Nebraska
The Johnson Ranch originated in 1898 when Don’s grandfather, Chris Johnson Sr., homesteaded on the present headquarters of the Johnson Ranch. The ranch was expanded by Don’s parents, Chris Jr. and Katherine Johnson. Under the management of Don and Rosemary, the ranch has expanded further to its present size of 9,100 acres.
Through the years the Johnson’s have made land stewardship a priority. Their dedication to improving the grasslands in their care has allowed them to witness a dramatic improvement in range condition. Don says that it has been very rewarding to see more grass in their pastures as a result of conservation efforts on the ranch. The Johnson’s have initiated many conservation practices on their own. In addition, they have also accomplished conservation through participation in the former Agriculture Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation Program.
Grassland improvement practices on the Johnson Ranch include the following:
- 565 acres of native grass seeding
- 15 new livestock wells
- 20 large livestock water tanks
- 1,980 feet of livestock water pipeline
- 16,500 feet of cross pipeline
- Livestock windbreak plantings
- Grading, seeding, mulching, and fencing of blowout areas
- Volunteer cedar tree control
- Implementation of a planned grazing system
Along with managing the ranch, Don has worked for 20 years as a night shift carman with the Union Pacific Railroad, while Rosemary runs a home-based baking business, selling at Farmer’s Markets and boutiques, and also making special orders. Their children are Jordan, Justina, and Jason, who help on the ranch when they are not involved in camps, 4-H, church, and home-school activities.