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Colorado Leopold Conservation Award Finalists Selected

Three cattle ranches are finalists for the 2024 Colorado Leopold Conservation Award®.

The 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.

The finalists include:

  • Camblin Livestock and McIntyre Ranch of Maybell, Colorado
  • Hamill Ranch of Hamilton, Colorado
  • Wagon Wheel Ranch of Yuma, Colorado

Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust will present Leopold Conservation Awards to landowners in 27 states this year.

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

Colorado was the first state where the Leopold Conservation Award was presented. Lynne Sherrod, a Colorado rancher who now serves as the board chairperson of the Sand County Foundation, was instrumental in the award’s creation in 2003.

“Each of this year’s award finalists epitomize the land ethic that Leopold described,” Sherrod said. “By embracing innovative grazing and rangeland practices, and emerging water distribution and irrigation technologies, they are making significant improvements to Colorado’s landscape.”

“Through collaborations with conservation organizations and government agencies, these ranch families are adapting to weather extremes with conservation tools that lead to improved soil health and perennial grasses that provide higher quality wildlife habitats and greater forage availability for livestock,” Sherrod added.

Landowners were encouraged to apply (or be nominated) for the Colorado Leopold Conservation Award late last year. Applications were reviewed by an independent panel of Colorado’s agricultural and conservation leaders. The formal award presentation will take place in June at the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association’s Annual Convention.

The Colorado Leopold Conservation Award is presented in partnership 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, with additional financial support from Stanko Ranch, ANB Bank, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, CKP Insurance, Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, McDonald’s, and The Nature Conservancy.


“Colorado ranching and farming families take pride in their roles as providers of food, fuel, and fiber to support a growing society while also dedicating efforts to benefiting the environment and their communities,” said Robert Farnam, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) President. “CCA applauds the Leopold Conservation Award finalists and applicants for their commitment to outstanding stewardship practices and conservation achievements on working lands.”

“We are honored to celebrate and highlight the voluntary conservation efforts and resource stewardship of Colorado’s farm and ranch families,” said Erik Glenn, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust Executive Director. “This year’s nominees showcase the power of combining traditional generational knowledge with research and strategic partnerships to enhance the agricultural productivity and ecological resilience of the land.”

“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 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.”

“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.

The first Colorado Leopold Conservation Award recipient was Capps Ranch of Walsenburg. LeValley Ranch of Hotchkiss received the award in 2023. To learn more about previous recipients, visit

Camblin Mc Intyre Photo

Camblin Livestock and McIntyre Ranch of Maybell

Hamill CO 24

Hamill Ranch of Hamilton

Wagon Wheel Photo

Wagon Wheel Ranch of Yuma

THE LEOPOLD CONSERVATION AWARD recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, 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).

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 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.

COLORADO CATTLEMEN’S AGRICULTURAL LAND TRUST 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 750,000 acres.

COLORADO CATTLEMEN’S ASSOCIATION 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.

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.

USDA NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE 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.