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2017 South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award® Recipient Announced

PIERRE, SD – (April 24, 2017) Sand County Foundation, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition congratulate Blue Bell Ranch of Clear Lake as the recipient of the 2017 Leopold Conservation Award. The award honors South Dakota landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.

Owned and managed by Herb and Beverly Hamann, along with their son Breck Hamann and daughter Arla Poindexter, Blue Bell Ranch includes more than 5,000 acres of native grasslands and wetlands that serve as an “ecological anchor” on the southern end of the Prairie Coteau Hills in eastern South Dakota.

The Hamanns have worked to maintain an excellent diversity of native vegetation on the ranch, and they consider ecological impacts and critical wildlife needs when grazing cattle.   

Herb and Bev implement conservation practices with or without incentives. They simply believe it’s the right thing to do. Incorporating prescribed fire, biological control for invasive plant species and changing to May calving dates, the Hamann family has begun influencing neighboring ranches that are seeing the positive results of working with the landscape instead of working on the landscape.

The Leopold Conservation Award is presented in honor of renowned conservationist and author Aldo Leopold, who called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage. Award applicants are judged based on their demonstration of improved resource conditions, innovation, long-term commitment to stewardship, sustained economic viability, community and civic leadership, and multiple use benefits.

The $10,000 award and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold will be presented to the Hamanns during the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association Annual Convention in November.

“The Hamanns offer a great example of how cattle production can mesh with care and maintenance of the land while not sacrificing profitability,” said Larry Stomprud, SDCA President and cow-calf producer from Mud Butte.

“The Blue Bell Ranch serves as a model for preservation of our grasslands. Herb and his family have shown that healthy grasslands are at the core of their operation, and that those grasslands are a logical starting point from which all other management decisions flow. Their leadership in wise use of grassland resources toward long-term goals for future generations is commendable and serves as a great example for those in both the livestock and conservation arenas,” stated Jim Faulstich, chairman, South Dakota Grassland Coalition.

The Leopold Conservation Award in South Dakota is possible thanks to generous contributions from many organizations, including: South Dakota Department of Environment & Natural Resources Discovery Center, Bad River Ranches, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks, South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation, First Dakota National Bank, South Dakota Grassland Coalition, South Dakota State University College of Ag and Biological Sciences, American Bank and Trust, Belle Fourche River Watershed Partnership, Daybreak Ranch, Ducks Unlimited, Millborn Seeds, Mortenson Family, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Professional Alliance, South Dakota's Conservation Districts, South Dakota Department of Agriculture Resource Conservation & Forestry, The Nature Conservancy Western Dakotas Program, World Wildlife Fund Northern Great Plains, US Fish & Wildlife Service and South Dakota Pheasants Forever.

ABOUT THE LEOPOLD CONSERVATION AWARD The Leopold Conservation Award ( is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. The award consists of a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold and $10,000. Sand County Foundation presents Leopold Conservation Awards in California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

ABOUT SAND COUNTY FOUNDATION Sand County Foundation ( is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to working with private landowners to advance ethical and scientifically sound land management practices that benefit people and the environment. ABOUT THE SOUTH DAKOTA CATTLEMEN’S ASSOCIATION The South Dakota Cattlemen's Association ( is a member-driven organization working to advance and protect the interests of all cattlemen. ABOUT THE SOUTH DAKOTA GRASSLAND COALITION The South Dakota Grassland Coalition ( is a non-profit organization that seeks the voluntary improvement of grasslands for the long-term needs of the resource and its various species. The SD Grassland Coalition is dedicated to improving and maintaining the state’s grasslands by informing and guiding grassland managers to make cost-effective and environmentally sound management decisions.