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Sid Goodloe Receives New Mexico Leopold Conservation Award

Watch Sid Goodloe's Inspiring Conservation Story

Sid Goodloe of Capitan has been selected as the recipient of the New Mexico Leopold Conservation Award®.

Goodloe has blazed his own trail at Carrizo Valley Ranch for more than six decades, and was practicing “regenerative ranching” before the phrase was coined. He was presented with the $10,000 award at the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts’ conference in Albuquerque.

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 lands.

Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust present the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 24 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. In New Mexico, the award is presented with New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, Quivira Coalition and New Mexico Coalition to Enhance Working Lands.

“We are excited to once again support the Leopold Conservation Award, and we are extremely encouraged that the award will go to Sid Goodloe this year. Sid was an early and long-standing board member of the Quivira Coalition. The work he and his family have done on their ranch helped us to solidify our own conservation ethic while we were still a young organization,” said Sarah Wentzel-Fisher, Quivira Coalition Executive Director.

“Sid and Cheryl Goodloe understand the meaning of watershed health,” said Willard Hall, New Mexico Association of Conservation District President. “They have hosted many ranch tours and serve as mentors to many conservationists.”

“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.

“As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of Sid Goodloe,” 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, New Mexico 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 outstanding New Mexico landowners nominated for the award was finalist JX Ranch of Tucumcari in Quay County, and Philmont Scout Ranch of Cimarron in Colfax County. The first Leopold Conservation Award in New Mexico was presented to Ute Creek Cattle Company of Bueyeros in 2021.

The Leopold Conservation Award is given to farmers, ranchers and forestland owners across the U.S. in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold. In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.

The New Mexico Leopold Conservation Award is made possible through the generous support of American Farmland Trust, Sand County Foundation, New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, Quivira Coalition, New Mexico Coalition to Enhance Working Lands, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services of New Mexico, John Duncan and Anita Sarafa, Farm Credit of New Mexico, and Holistic Management International.


Sid Goodloe has blazed his own trail at Carrizo Valley Ranch for more than six decades, and was practicing “regenerative ranching” before the phrase was coined.

As with most innovators, his ideas were not always initially welcomed with open arms by the scientific, academic, and ranching communities. Yet many of Sid’s skeptics would later adopt his conservation practices.

While working in Africa in the 1960s, Sid witnessed a different way to graze cattle on rangelands with Zimbabwean scientist and farmer Allan Savory. They noticed that pastures eventually flourished when they were given an extended period of rest after cattle quickly grazed them. They co-wrote a description of what would be called the short duration grazing method, and the Society for Rangeland Management published it in 1969.

Sid returned home and implemented short duration grazing in 1971, where it continues today with few changes. Sid hosted Savory and arranged a speaking tour at several Western universities in 1974. The results were varied, with some academics either threatened by or discounting Savory’s knowledge. Undaunted, Savory would later revolutionize established grazing methods worldwide.

Sid would make his own mark as a visionary in removing Pinon/Juniper trees, and riparian area restoration. His management practices have yielded a showcase of wildlife habitat and plant diversity at elevations between 6,000 to 7,500 feet.

Beef cattle graze the ranch’s riparian areas for one to two weeks during dormancy. This helps prepare a seed-bed for beneficial grasses and wildflowers, while providing year-round forage for elk, deer and antelope. Recently Sid reduced his stocking rate by half to enhance wildlife habitat at the cow-calf ranch which does double duty as a fee hunting property.

Sid’s ingenuity turned oak brush from a nuisance into an asset. By cutting oak brush from three feet down to six inches, it later stimulates rapid growth of a nutritional green forage when native grasses are dormant.

More than 65 years of recordkeeping at the ranch shows that rain and snow deposit an annual average of just 19.5 inches of moisture. In response, forests have been thinned, drought provisions established, and installation of solar wells and dirt tanks have increased water availability.

Erosion turned abandoned homestead roads that crisscross Carrizo Valley Ranch into gullies. Sid’s steps to prevent erosion once drew opposition from downstream landowners who depended upon the silt-laden runoff water to irrigate their hayfields. After two years of litigation, they realized that Sid’s work was recharging the aquifers that furnished their well water.

Forest Service personnel and college students regularly tour the ranch to see its exemplary forest management and range practices at work. Sid’s efforts have been featured in three documentaries, and he’s a frequent guest speaker on conservation and land management issues. He works to preserve the Western way of life as the longtime president of the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium, a three-day chuck wagon cook-off and Western music event.

After 66 years of ecosystem improvement, the future of Carrizo Valley Ranch is very important to Sid. A conservation easement on the ranch guarantees it will provide open space and be financially unencumbered in perpetuity. Sid and Cheryl Goodloe plan to pass the ranch on as a protected property that will provide a livestock, wildlife and recreation opportunities for their grandchildren.

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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.


The New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts’ mission is to facilitate the conservation of natural resources in New Mexico by providing opportunities and quality support to local conservation districts and partners through representation and leadership.


The Quivira Coalition builds soil, biodiversity, and resilience on western working landscapes. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education, innovation, and collaboration.


New Mexico Coalition to Enhance Workings Lands is a network of groups and individuals whose purpose is to support and enhance ongoing efforts to improve the health and productivity of New Mexico working lands that support agriculture and the environment. Its focus is to increase soil health, biodiversity, and hydrologic function wherever possible.