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Myrin Ranch Receives Utah Leopold Conservation Award

Watch the Myrin's Conservation Success Story

Myrin Ranch of Altamont has been selected as the recipient of the 2022 Utah Leopold Conservation Award®.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the prestigious award recognizes farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat management on private, working land.

Alarik and Beth Myrin and their children Rik, Deborah, and Nils (and their families) manage about 35,000 acres, between private land and federal grazing permits. The Myrin family has ranched in Duchesne County since 1945, and have long relied on conservation to achieve efficiency.

The Myrin family was presented with $10,000 and a crystal award at the Utah Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Meeting in Provo.

In Utah the award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, American Farmland Trust, Utah Farm Bureau Federation, Western AgCredit and Utah Cattlemen’s Association.

“Our current time places a premium on conserving water and natural resources, and so we congratulate the Myrin family on the efforts they’ve made on their farm amd ranch to do just that, said Ron Gibson, President of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation. “While we can only recognize one family with this award, we also want to thank the other finalists and the other farmers and ranchers in our state who feel a sense of responsibility to the land and animals.”

“The Myrin family is a wonderful example of landowners that have made conservation a way of life, and we congratulate them on this well-deserved recognition,” said David Brown, President of Western AgCredit. “As dedicated land stewards, they are always mindful of the importance of preserving and protecting natural resources so they can thrive for generations to come, and we commend them for their efforts.”

“In a society where conservation is ever growing more socially important, it is exciting to see a multi-generational family demonstrate that conservation has been important for decades on their ranch. The Utah Cattlemen’s Association congratulates the Myrin family on earning this prestigious award,” said Brent Tanner, Utah Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President.

“The Myrin family is an example 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.

“As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of the Myrin family,” said John Piotti, AFT president and CEO. “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.”

Earlier this year, Utah landowners were encouraged to apply (or be nominated) for the award. Applications were reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders. Among the many outstanding Utah landowners nominated for the award were finalists: Bennion Beef of Vernon in Tooele County, and Lewis Farms of Monticello in San Juan County.

The first Utah Leopold Conservation Award was presented in 2007. To view all of the award’s recipients visit

The Leopold Conservation Award in Utah is made possible thanks to the generous contributions from American Farmland Trust, Western AgCredit, Utah Farm Bureau Federation, Utah Cattlemen’s Association, Sand County Foundation, Producers Livestock Marketing Association, The Nature Conservancy, Utah Association of Conservation Districts, Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, and Utah Wool Growers Association.

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 presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 24 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. To read the stories of other extraordinary landowners, visit


The Myrin family is not immune to the harsh realities forced on Utah ranchers by drought.

Last year they reduced their cattle herd’s size. However, conservation practices are helping the Myrins make the most of the limited moisture Utah receives. An intensive, rotational grazing system benefits the Myrin Ranch’s ecosystem and beef cattle business.

Alarik and Beth Myrin and their children Rik, Deborah, and Nils (and their families) manage about 35,000 acres, between private land and federal grazing permits. The Myrin family has ranched in Duchesne County since 1945, and have long relied on conservation to achieve efficiency.

Whether building fences or developing water sources, their investment of time and resources has improved soil health and wildlife habitat on their pastures and rangelands. Quickly moving their grazing cow-calf herds leaves behind grass tall enough to regrow as a dense ground cover with greater ability to infiltrate and retain water.

The Myrins grow hay for their winter feeding needs. Over time they have improved the efficiency of irrigating hay fields. Pressurized sprinkler systems reduce the evaporation that comes from misting and fogging. Having enough hay stockpiled provides stability to their stocking rates and offers cover for wildlife. Hay is strategically placed near wildlife areas to keep wildlife from accessing valuable crops elsewhere.

Myrin Ranch is home to mule deer, elk, beaver, sage grouse, turkey, and waterfowl. It hosts large populations of wildlife migrating off the Uinta Mountains. A grazing system where cattle are moved frequently gives the Myrins flexibility to work around sensitive wildlife areas at key times.

Wildlife-friendly electric rope fencing has replaced barbed wire because the Myrins view wildlife as a resource, not a nuisance. The riparian habitat along the Lake Fork River that runs through the ranch acts as a wildlife corridor.

The Myrins have planted trees, and made streambank restoration and flood irrigation improvements to that area with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Although invasive and problematic, a patch of Russian olive trees is managed because deer and elk like them for sanctuary and feed. Where Russian olives have been removed elsewhere, fruit trees have been planted.

In addition to providing a mobile structure that provides shade for cattle, the Myrins continue to improve infrastructure that simplifies frequent cattle moves. They’ve also invested in water distribution to the forests where a majority of their cow-calf herd is grazed from June to October. The ability to graze more reduces the ranch’s carbon footprint as tractors are used less.

After five years of intensive grazing, the Myrins noticed the carrying capacity of their grassland increased by 20 percent. More available feed allowed them to raise some of their calves as yearlings and start a retail grass-fed beef business. They formed Canyon Meadows Ranch in 2009 as a way to diversify from the conventional beef market.

The Myrins are stewards of land, wildlife and the agricultural community. A partnership between the ranch and Utah State University provides agricultural and range students with employment opportunities. Off the ranch, Alarik Myrin is well known for serving his community, state, and the livestock industry. He served 18 years in the Utah Legislature, and has held many leadership roles with the Utah and National Cattlemen’s Associations.

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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, Maryland, 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.


Its mission is to inspire all Utah families to connect, succeed and grow through the miracle of agriculture. It strives to bring value to every citizen and community through love of God, family, country, and the land through political action, educational and informational means.


Western AgCredit is the leader within the agricultural finance industry with nearly 100 years of lending to farmers in the Intermountain West. It currently serves approximately 1,700 customers with a full range of credit and financial services, as well as providing financial and volunteer support to several agricultural and community activities, including, among others, Utah Farm Bureau, Utah Cattlemen’s Association, Utah Wool Growers Association, the FFA, and the 4-H.


The Utah Cattlemen’s Association has represented Utah cattle producers since 1870, preserving the heritage and strength of the industry through education and public policy and by supporting and establishing the adoption of good principles of raising and marketing cattle and caring for the land we ranch on. Efforts are made possible through membership contributions.