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Tallow Creek Farm Named Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award® Recipient

Frankfort, Ky.Sand County Foundation, the Kentucky Agricultural Council (KAC) and the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts (KACD) are proud to announce Tallow Creek Farm as the 2017 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award recipient. The award honors landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.

Located in Taylor County, Tallow Creek Farm is owned and managed by Harry and Karen Pelle and their family. When they began restoring their land, the Pelles contacted the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources for technical guidance. This blossomed into new ideas for habitat improvements, developing Forest Stewardship Plans with the Kentucky Division of Forestry, and taking advantage of USDA programs for forest management. The Pelles have embraced long term sustainable forest management to keep their investment productive for generations to come.

Nearly 1,330 acres of the property has a long history of logger choice harvest and occasional wildfire, which left mostly small-to-medium saw timber with a large percentage of low quality, less desirable species. The family has been working to improve timber quality through cull tree removal and mid-story removal for regeneration, and dead and low-quality trees have been harvested for firewood. 

Timber stand improvements (TSI) have not only improved the quality of forest crops, but they have also significantly improved wildlife habitat. TSI create openings in the forest canopy that stimulate increased growth of understory vegetation, providing browse, cover and soft mast for wildlife. Ring girdling and hack and squirt methods used by the Pelles leave snags that are important for cavity nesting wildlife, and harbor insects that are a valuable food source for birds.

"The Kentucky Agricultural Council continues to be a proud partner with the Sand County Foundation in the Leopold Conservation Award Program,” said Kentucky Agricultural Council Chair, John W. McCauley. “It was a great experience to meet the Pelle family at their Tallow Creek Farm.  During my visit to Tallow Creek, it was evident that Harry and Karen Pelle have maintained a high standard of ethic and stewardship   with the mission of leaving the land better than they found it.  They were the best selection among several great nominees as this year’s recipient of the 2017 Leopold Conservation Award. There is no doubt that the Pelle family follows in the rich tradition of our past winners. In talking with them, you quickly know of their passion for agriculture and the environment.”

 “KACD and conservation districts promote the sound management of all our natural resources and we are excited to join Sand County Foundation and the Kentucky Agricultural Council in recognizing a well deserving landowner in Kentucky,” said David Rowlett, KACD President. “Congratulations to Harry & Karen Pelle from Taylor County as this year’s recipient and his efforts to adopt sound soil and water conservation practices on his land that benefit us all.”

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the $10,000 Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. It inspires other landowners through these examples and provides a visible forum where farmers, ranchers and other private landowners are recognized as conservation leaders. 

In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.”

Sand County Foundation and the Kentucky Agricultural Council presented the award to the Pelles at the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts Convention on July 11. Visit or

The Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award is made possible thanks to the generous support of Farm Credit Mid-America, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Kentucky Farm Bureau, Kentucky Corn Growers Association, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Brereton & Elizabeth Jones Charitable Family Foundation, Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts, Kentucky Woodland Owner’s Association, Kentucky Tree Farm Committee, USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Services, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. 

ABOUT THE LEOPOLD CONSERVATION AWARD® The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. 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 across North America to advance ethical and scientifically sound land management practices that benefit the environment.

The Kentucky Agricultural Council (KAC) is a 501(c)(3) organization consisting of some 80 agricultural organizations representing all sectors of Kentucky agriculture. The membership is composed of commodity groups, state and federal agricultural organizations, agricultural trade organizations and the state’s institutions of higher education that serve Kentucky agriculture. The KAC functions as an umbrella group and hub for its members, disseminating information and promoting coordination among all agricultural organizations and sectors. Since 2006, the KAC also has served as the “steward of strategic planning” for the future of Kentucky agriculture and Kentucky’s rural communities.

The Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts (KACD) is 501(c)(3) organization consisting of Kentucky’s local conservation districts and watershed conservancy districts. KACD encourages the exchange of information relating to the administration and operation of conservation districts and watershed conservancy districts; to affect cooperation between districts and agencies and organizations concerned with any and all phases of soil and water conservation; to promote the welfare of conservation districts and watershed conservancy districts and the people therein; and to maintain strong and active membership in both KACD and the National Association of Conservation Districts.