SANDY, Utah – Three finalists have been selected for the prestigious 2019 Utah Leopold Conservation Award®.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes farmers, ranchers and foresters who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat management on private, working land.

In Utah the award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, Utah Farm Bureau Federation, Western AgCredit and Utah Cattlemen’s Association.

The finalists are: 

  • Half Circle Cross Ranch of Coalville in Summit County: Colby and McKenzie Pace   have installed solar-powered watering systems to improve livestock distribution, forage utilization and water quality at their cattle ranch. Land is managed to reduce erosion, protect riparian areas and provide habitat for nesting and migrating shore birds. They work with the Nature Conservancy to demonstrate how grazing cattle can help reduce invasive phragmite grasses.
  • Ferril and Dorothy Heaton Family LLC of Alton in Kane County: The Heatons have planted native grasses and removed invasive weeds at their cattle ranch. Plant diversity has returned to areas once dominated by sagebrush. Prescribed grazing practices help reduce erosion, and solar-powered pumps deliver water to cattle and wildlife. In addition to helping the Bureau of Land Management plant native grass on its land, they host an irrigation pond used by neighboring farmers.
  • JY Ferry & Son, Inc. of Corinne in Box Elder County: John, Ben and Joel Ferry have implemented practices that improve soil health, grazing techniques and water efficiency on their cattle ranch’s rangeland, wetlands and irrigated farmland. Rotational grazing, cover crops and no-till practices have benefited the ranch’s soils, crops, cattle and wildlife. Grazing and haying management plans are designed to have minimal impacts on nesting birds.

This year’s finalists were recognized November 14 at the Utah Association of Conservation Districts luncheon in St. George. The award recipient will be formally presented with the $10,000 award and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold on November 21 at the Utah Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Convention in Layton. 

“Western AgCredit is proud to sponsor the Leopold Conservation Award in Utah. These families have worked for generations to improve the quality and production capacity of their ranches. Conservation is a way of life to these families and we appreciate their commitment to being exemplary stewards of the land,” said David Brown, Western AgCredit CEO. 

“We congratulate these families on the recognition that comes from being listed as finalist for this award. The Sand County Foundation and Aldo Leopold are a great example of the good that can be done when groups work together to promote the wise use of our natural resources. While we can only recognize a few families with this award, they truly represent the vast majority of farmers and ranchers in our state who feel a sense of responsibility to the land and animals,” said Ron Gibson, Utah Farm Bureau President. 

“The Utah Cattlemen's Association congratulates the landowners in our state who are demonstrating a commitment of conservation to the land and the natural resources in their stewardship. These finalists are a fitting representation of many committed landowners in our state,” said Brent Tanner, Utah Cattlemen's Association Executive Vice President. 

The first Utah Leopold Conservation Award recipient was Harold Selman Ranches of Tremonton in 2007. The 2018 recipient was Ercanbrack Livestock of Coalville.  

The Leopold Conservation Award in Utah is made possible thanks to the generous contributions from Western AgCredit, Utah Farm Bureau Federation, Utah Cattlemen’s Association, Utah Association of Conservation Districts, The Nature Conservancy, Utah Wool Growers Association, Producers Livestock Marketing Association, and the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. 

In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.” 

Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 20 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. To read the stories of other extraordinary landowners, visit

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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, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, 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 enables 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.



The Utah Farm Bureau is the largest general farm and ranch organization in the state with more than 34,000 member families. Its mission is to inspire all Utah families to connect, succeed and grow through the miracle of agriculture. It strives to bring value to every citizen and community through love of God, family, country, and the land through political action, educational and informational means.


Western AgCredit is the leader within the agricultural finance industry with nearly 100 years of lending to farmers in the Intermountain West. It currently serves approximately 1,700 customers with a full range of credit and financial services, as well as providing financial and volunteer support to several agricultural and community activities, including, among others, Utah Farm Bureau, Utah Cattlemen’s Association, Utah Wool Growers Association, the FFA, and the 4-H.


The Utah Cattlemen’s Association has represented Utah cattle producers since 1870, preserving the heritage and strength of the industry through education and public policy and by supporting and establishing the adoption of good principles of raising and marketing cattle and caring for the land we ranch on.  Efforts are made possible through membership contributions.