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Colorado Leopold Conservation Award Seeks Nominees

Nominations and applications are now being accepted for the 2024 Colorado Leopold Conservation Award®.

The $10,000 award honors ranchers, farmers and forestland owners who go above and beyond in their management of soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat on working land.

Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust present the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 27 states. In Colorado, the award is presented with the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, American AgCredit, CoBank, Farm Credit of Southern Colorado, and Premier Farm Credit.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes landowners who inspire others with their dedication to environmental improvement. In his influential 1949 book, “A Sand County Almanac,” Leopold called for what he called “a land ethic,” an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.

Award nominations may be submitted on behalf of a landowner, or landowners may nominate themselves. The application can be found at www.sandcountyfoundation.org/ApplyLCA.

The application deadline date is February 1, 2024. Applications can be emailed to sarah@coloradocattle.org. If mailed, applications must be postmarked by February 1 and mailed to:

Leopold Conservation Award

c/o Colorado Cattlemen’s Association

7000 West 14th Avenue

Lakewood, CO 80214

The first Colorado Leopold Conservation Award recipient, Capps Ranch of Walsenburg, was selected in 2003. LeValley Ranch of Hotchkiss received the award in 2023.

“The Leopold Conservation Award not only showcases the heritage of natural resource stewardship on working landscapes, but also highlights the positive influences agriculture has on the environment, our communities, and our economy,” said Robert Farnam, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association President.

“These award recipients 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 farmers, ranchers and forestland owners,” 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.”

The Leopold Conservation Award Program in Colorado is made possible thanks to the generous partnership and support of American Farmland Trust, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Sand County Foundation, American AgCredit, CoBank, Farm Credit of Southern Colorado, Premier Farm Credit, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Assoc., The Stanko Ranch, ANB Bank, CKP Insurance, Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, McDonald’s, The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, and The Nature Conservancy.

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LEOPOLD CONSERVATION AWARD 

The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont). www.leopoldconservationaward.org

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.

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 6.8 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 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 750,000 acres. ccalt.org

COLORADO CATTLEMEN’S ASSOCIATION

As the only organization exclusively representing the state's more than 12,000 beef producers, CCA serves members by speaking out on behalf of Colorado's beef producers and landowners to state and national legislators, agencies, media, and consumers. The association is primarily funded through voluntary membership dues contributed by its members. coloradocattle.org

SAND COUNTY FOUNDATION

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. www.sandcountyfoundation.org

USDA NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE (NRCS)

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. www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/co/home/

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