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Colorado Leopold Conservation Award Finalists Selected

Finalists have been selected for the prestigious 2022 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 voluntary conservation efforts on private, working lands.

Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust present the Leopold Conservation Award to landowners in 24 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation.

In Colorado, the $10,000 award is presented with the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Gates Family Foundation, American AgCredit, CoBank, Farm Credit of Southern Colorado, and Premier Farm Credit.

The finalists are:

Pankey Ranch of Craig, Colorado: Keith and Shelley Pankey and their family raise beef cattle and hay in Moffat and Routt counties. With solar pumps, revamped wells and pipelines, they’ve developed dependable water resources for livestock, big game and birds. With increased wildlife habitat the Pankeys provide public hunting, while preserving the Greater Sage-Grouse population. By reseeding stream banks and planting hundreds of willow trees they are preventing soil erosion. Their efforts to control noxious weeds have led to reestablishment of desirable native grasses.

Round River Resource Management LLC of Rush, Colorado: Since establishing Round River Resource Management LLC (RRRM), a land and livestock management company in 2008, Louis Martin’s team implements regenerative practices on cattle ranches in collaboration with landowners, federal and state agencies, conservation and community groups. RRRM manages the Bret Gray Ranch in Lincoln County and the BX Ranch in Pueblo County. Improved grazing and watering systems are regenerating the ecosystem. These efforts reduce soil erosion, enhance water quality downstream, and help control flooding.

This year’s recipient will be announced in April. The formal award presentation will take place on June 13, 2022 at the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association’s Annual Convention in Colorado Springs.

“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’s farming and ranching families feed a growing society through sustainable production practices that produce more by using less, all the while benefitting our communities, economy, and environment,” said Steve Wooten, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association President. “CCA celebrates the Leopold Conservation Award recipients and applicants for their commitment to outstanding stewardship practices and conservation achievements on working lands.”

“Celebrating the voluntary conservation accomplishments of Colorado’s farmers and ranchers is a highlight of our work. And the 2022 Leopold Conservation Award nominees and applicants certainly showcase the diversity of agriculture, land management, and conservation ethics in Colorado,” said Erik Glenn, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust Executive Director. “We are honored to help tell the story of agriculturalists and their dedication to the lands they steward, their communities, and their families.”

“These award finalists are examples of how Aldo Leopold’s land ethic is alive and well today. Their dedication to conservation shows how individuals can improve the health of the land while producing food and fiber,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and CEO.

To learn more about previous recipients, including the 2021 recipient, May Ranch of Lamar, Colorado, visit

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, American AgCredit, CoBank, Farm Credit of Southern Colorado, Premier Farm Credit, Gates Family Foundation, Stanko Ranch, Colorado Department of Agriculture, The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, The Nature Conservancy in Colorado, and McDonald’s.

For more information on the award, visit

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Pankey Family Co

PANKEY RANCH - Front row (left to right): Ryan, Adyson, Shelley, and Jack Pankey. Back row: Justin, Shea, Keith, Kevin, and Sarah Pankey.

Rrrm Team Photo3

ROUND RIVER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT - (left to right): Louis Martin, Marcos Baez, Adam Childs, and Christopher Mellen.


The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, Iowa, 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).


Sand County Foundation inspires and empowers 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.


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.


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.


The Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) was founded in 1995 by the membership of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association to conserve Colorado’s western heritage and working landscapes for the benefit of future generations. To date, CCALT has partnered with hundreds of ranching families in the protection of more than 705,000 acres.


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.


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.

AMERICAN AGCREDIT, COBANK, FARM CREDIT of SOUTHERN COLORADO and PREMIER FARM CREDIT are associated with the nationwide Farm Credit cooperative structure that supports more than 500,000 customer-owners across all 50 states. Farm Credit supports rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services since 1916.

THE GATES FAMILY FOUNDATION invests in projects and organizations which make a meaningful, positive impact in Colorado and enhance the quality of life for those living in, working in, and visiting the state. The Foundation promotes excellence, innovation, and self-sufficiency in public education, healthy lifestyles, community enrichment, connection to nature, and stewardship of the state’s natural inheritance. The Foundation’s actions will remain consistent with the founders’ intentions and the principles of citizenship, entrepreneurship, and free enterprise.