Three finalists have been selected for the 2021 Utah Leopold Conservation Award®.
Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the prestigious award recognizes farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat management on private, working land.
The finalists are:
Lewis Farms of Monticello in San Juan County: The Lewis family grows organic wheat, alfalfa and safflower. They engage in conservation practices that control soil erosion, improve soil health, eradicate noxious weeds, and enhance wildlife habitat. The Lewises have built terraces and sediment control basins to control water erosion. By developing several springs they can supply water for livestock and wildlife. They were early adopters of cover crops and no-till practices in their region.
Myrin Ranch of Altamont in Duchesne County: Alarik and Beth Myrin’s family manage their ranch for healthy soils, quality wildlife habitat, and a diverse ecosystem. Their beef cattle help build and conserve soil. Their rotational grazing management is focused on keeping and creating ground cover, moisture retention, and increasing soil carbon retention. Wildlife habitat has benefitted from streambank restorations, tree plantings, and delayed grazing of wetlands during the spring nesting season.
Yardley Cattle Company of Beaver in Beaver County: Gilbert and Steven Yardley have a national reputation for breeding high-quality cattle. Conservation practices have improved the pastures and hay fields their cattle rely on. They have improved the health of their range and watershed with prescribed burns, rangeland reseedings, noxious weed removal and riparian streambed restorations. Installation of wells, solar pumps and miles of pipeline benefit livestock, wildlife, songbirds and amphibians.
This year’s finalists were recognized today (November 2nd) at the Utah Association of Conservation Districts luncheon in St. George. The award recipient will be formally presented with $10,000 and a crystal award on November 18 at the Utah Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Convention in Provo.
“We congratulate these families on the recognition that comes from being listed as finalist for this award. The Sand County Foundation and the Leopold Conservation Award are great examples 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.
“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 Chief Executive Officer.
“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.
“Recipients of this award are real life examples of conservation-minded agriculture,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer. “These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system and rural economy.”
“As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of the Utah award finalists,” said John Piotti, AFT President and Chief Executive Officer. “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 first Utah Leopold Conservation Award recipient was Harold Selman Ranches of Tremonton in 2007. The 2020 recipient was Half Circle Cross Ranch of Coalville.
The Leopold Conservation Award in Utah is made possible thanks to the generous contributions from American Farmland Trust, Sand County Foundation, 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 23 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. To read the stories of other extraordinary landowners, visit www.leopoldconservationaward.org.
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LEOPOLD CONSERVATION AWARD PROGRAM
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, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont). www.leopoldconservationaward.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
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 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and supported thousands of farm families. www.farmland.org
UTAH FARM BUREAU FEDERATION
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. www.utahfarmbureau.org.
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. www.westernagcredit.com.
UTAH CATTLEMEN’S ASSOCIATION
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. www.utahcattlemen.org.