Finalists for Leopold Conservation Award announced in Colorado

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Three outstanding agricultural families in Colorado have been identified as finalists for the $10,000 Leopold Conservation Award, an award that recognizes a commitment to stewardship of natural resources.

Each year, the Leopold Conservation Award honors farmers and ranchers who are working to enhance Colorado's land, water and wildlife. Photo credit: Bill Gillette

The Leopold Conservation Award serves as an annual reminder of the tremendous work Colorado farmers and ranchers are doing for agriculture and conservation.

Sand County Foundation, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. and Peabody Energy are proud to announce the finalists for the 2012 Leopold Conservation Award in Colorado.

The Leopold Conservation Award, named in honor of world-renowned 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 in Loveland.

For more information, please visit or contact the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, (303) 431-6422, info(at)

Sand County Foundation is a private, non-profit conservation organization dedicated to working with private landowners to improve habitat on their land. In the spirit of Aldo Leopold, author of A Sand County Almanac, the Foundation encourages the exercise of private responsibility in the pursuit of improved land health.

The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) 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. CCA serves its members through legislative representation, research and education, information distribution, public relations, issues management, and allied group cooperation.

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 protected 264 ranches, covering more than 389,000 acres.

EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. is a leading North American energy company that produces approximately 4.4 billion cubic feet of gas equivalent per day. More than 80 percent of which is natural gas. The organization strives to be a trusted community contributor and is committed to benchmark practices in safety and environmental stewardship, ethical business conduct, and community responsibility.

Peabody Energy’s products fuel approximately 10 percent of America's, and 2 percent of the world's electricity. The company serves customers in 21 nations representing more than half the world's population. Peabody achieves strong productivity and safety results and continues to receive the industry's highest honors for land restoration and environmental stewardship.

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Kevin Kiley
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