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Finalists for conservation award announced in CO


April 13, 2012, Arvada, CO – Sand County Foundation, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. and Peabody Energy recently announced the finalists for the 2012 Leopold Conservation Award in Colorado.

The Leopold Conservation Award, named in honor of conservationist Aldo Leopold, is comprised of $10,000 and a Leopold crystal. The award is presented annually in eight states to private landowners who practice responsible land stewardship and management.

“The Leopold Conservation Award got its start in Colorado, and, year after year, the finalists prove to be exceptional stewards of the land, water, and wildlife that are part of their farms and ranches,” said Dr. Brent Haglund, Sand County Foundation president. “The Leopold Conservation Award serves as an annual reminder of the tremendous work Colorado farmers and ranchers are doing for agriculture and conservation.”

The 2012 Leopold Conservation finalists are:

Bray Ranch (San Miguel and Montrose Counties)

Running the Bray Ranch is truly a family affair. Robert is a 3rd generation owner, ranching with the help of his wife Melissa and their children Lance, Zandon, Chayden, Garin, and their spouses and families. Robert’s grandfather started the ranch in 1907 as a range sheep operation with a small cattle herd. It has since grown to an 850 head herd with approximately 250 yearlings. In addition to ranching, the Brays operate a big game hunting business on their land. The Brays’ management plan states that the protection and enhancement of wildlife is their first priority, with their livestock operation being second. To help ensure the presence of continued habitat for native species, Robert and his family placed conservation easements on over 1,800 acres that several species, including the Gunnison Sage grouse and Gunnison Prairie dog, call home.

Wagon Wheel Ranch (Yuma County)

The Rogers family’s Wagon Wheel Ranch is a multigenerational operation. The Rogers family continually seeks opportunities to improve their operation and the natural resources in their care. For example, rotational grazing systems have been implemented to maximize forage resources through the conservation of soil moisture. The Rogers’ water management techniques include an update to their irrigation system, which has allowed them to reach 90-92 percent irrigation efficiency, using less power. In 2008, the Rogers Family received a grant for a water quality project to help retain water runoff from corrals on the ranch. The construction of several pits keeps the majority of the runoff on the ranch, while also providing nesting places for waterfowl.

Wineinger-Davis Ranch (Crowley County)

Russell and Tricia Davis’ Wineinger-Davis Ranch, established in 1938, consists of over 12,000 acres. The ranch successfully integrates not only the needs of a successful and productive beef operation, but also the habitat needs of a suite of shortgrass prairie wildlife species. Among other conservation achievements, in 2004, Russell and Tricia placed perpetual conservation easements on the ranch through the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Colorado Species Conservation partnership program. This easement protects 12,245 acres of intact native shortgrass prairie and riparian ecosystems. This agreement focuses on proper livestock grazing to benefit all short grass prairie and plains riparian wildlife species.

The Leopold Conservation Award in Colorado is made possible through the generous support of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc., Peabody Energy and Farm Credit.

The 2012 Leopold Conservation Award recipient will be honored at the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association’s Annual Convention being held in Loveland, CO, June 11 to 13, 2012.