Finalists for Colorado Leopold Conservation Award Selected
March 22, 2021
Three finalists have been selected for the prestigious 2021 Colorado Leopold Conservation Award®.
Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes ranchers, farmers, and forestland owners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water, and wildlife habitat management on private, working lands.
In Colorado the $10,000 award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, American Farmland Trust, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The finalists are:
* Fetcher Ranch of Clark in Routt County: Respect for native species has long been a priority of the Fetcher family. A rotational grazing system and wildlife-friendly fencing allow beef cattle to share pastures with elk, deer, and Sand Hill Cranes. Hay meadows are managed with flood irrigation which create a wetland ecosystem for a variety of waterfowl and insects. Jay Fetcher was an early adopter of conservation easements. His family regularly opens their land for educational, cultural, and recreational events.
* LK Ranch of Meeker in Rio Blanco County: The innovative grazing management, fencing, and livestock watering systems implemented by the Klinglesmith family have made their ranch more ecologically and economically resilient. Conservation easements on the ranch ensure that water rights will remain for agriculture and wildlife in perpetuity. New irrigation equipment reduces the amount of water needed to irrigate hay fields, and any late season hay growth is left standing to feed mule deer and elk through the winter.
* May Ranch of Lamar in Prowers County: From a carbon credit offset program and rangeland health assessments, to how cattle are cared for, rancher Dallas May and his family utilize a variety of third-party verifications to measure and manage conservation success. In addition to managing the grasslands for grazing, the Mays have installed wildlife-friendly fencing, improved wetlands and streams, restored playas, and planted native trees. They work with a number of conservation groups by hosting surveys of bird species, tours, and biological inventories on the ranch.
This year’s recipient will be announced in April. The formal award presentation will take place on Monday, June 21, 2021 at the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association’s Annual Convention, which will be held at the Double Tree by Hilton in Grand Junction.
“As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of the Colorado award finalists,” said John Piotti, AFT President and Chief Executive Officer. “At AFT we believe that conservation in agriculture requires a focus on the land, the practices and the people and this award recognizes the integral role of all three.”
“Colorado farming and ranching families proudly produce the food that feeds the world and provide invaluable benefits to their communities and the environment,” said Janie VanWinkle, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association President. “CCA celebrates the Leopold Conservation Award recipients and applicants for their contributions, including outstanding stewardship practices and conservation achievements.”
“The Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust is proud to celebrate the voluntary conservation accomplishments of Colorado’s farmers and ranchers,” said Erik Glenn, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust Executive Director. “The 2021 Leopold Conservation Award nominees and applicants showcase the diversity of agriculture in Colorado and the dedication that farming and ranching families have to the lands they steward, their communities, and their families.”
“Recipients of this award are real life examples of conservation-minded agriculture,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer. “These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system and rural economy.”
To learn more about previous recipients, including the 2020 recipient, Collins Ranch of Kit Carson, Colorado, visit https://www.sandcountyfoundation.org/colorado.
The Leopold Conservation Award in Colorado is made possible by generous contributions from the American Farmland Trust, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Sand County Foundation, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Stanko Ranch, American AgCredit, The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, The Nature Conservancy in Colorado, and McDonald’s.
The first Leopold Conservation Award was presented in Colorado in 2003. Since then the award has been presented in 22 other states. Sand County Foundation and national sponsor, American Farmland Trust, present the award elsewhere with state partners.
For more information on the award, visit www.leopoldconservationaward.org.
LEOPOLD CONSERVATION AWARD PROGRAM
The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont). www.leopoldconservationaward.org
SAND COUNTY FOUNDATION
Sand County Foundation inspires and enables a growing number of private landowners to ethically manage natural resources in their care, so future generations have clean and abundant water, healthy soil to support agriculture and forestry, plentiful habitat for wildlife and opportunities for outdoor recreation. www.sandcountyfoundation.org
AMERICAN FARMLAND TRUST
American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through its No Farms, No Food message. Since its founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and supported thousands of farm families. www.farmland.org
COLORADO CATTLEMEN’S ASSOCIATION
Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is the state’s only nonprofit trade organization exclusively representing Colorado’s beef producers. Founded in 1867, CCA is the nation’s oldest state cattlemen’s association. www.coloradocattle.org
COLORADO CATTLEMEN’S AGRICULTURAL LAND TRUST
Recognizing the need to help Colorado’s ranching and farming families protect their agricultural lands, in the face of growing development and economic pressures, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association in 1995 formed the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT). To date, CCALT has partnered with hundreds of ranching families in the protection of more than 637,000 acres. www.ccalt.org
TRI-STATE GENERATION & TRANSMISSION ASSOCIATION
Tri-State Generation & Transmission Assoc. is a wholesale electric power supplier owned by the 43-member electric cooperatives and public power districts it serves. Tri-State generates and delivers electricity to its member systems that serve more than one million people across nearly 200,000 square miles of Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming. www.tristate.coop.
USDA NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE
NRCS is a federal agency committed to helping private landowners care and make healthy choices for the land and water, while using them productively. Through voluntary incentive-based programs, the NRCS works directly with farmers, ranchers, forest owners and other land stewards to provide technical expertise and financial assistance to make conservation work on private lands. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/co/home/