WICHITA– The Sand County Foundation, in partnership with theKansas Association of Conservation Districts (KACD) and theRanchland Trust of Kansas (RTK), is proud to announce the finalists for the first annual Kansas Leopold Conservation Award®, which honors Kansas landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.
The 2015 finalists are:
- Randall and Nicole Small, who own 2S Land & Cattle, a cow/calf ranch and crop farm in Neodesha. The Smalls practice rotational grazing, plant cover crops to maintain healthy soils and have been no-till since 1999. To benefit wildlife, the Smalls built wildlife-friendly fencing and created quail habitat surrounding their crop fields;
- Sproul Ranch, a 2,200-acre cattle ranch in Chautauqua County owned by Bill and Peggy Sproul. The cattle graze on tallgrass prairie restored by the Sprouls. The grass is burned on a rotational basis and the unburned, regrown grass serves as wildlife habitat and provides natural fuel for future burns;
- and the Vorhees family, owners of Lazy VJ Farms, a cow/calf ranch in Fredonia. The family practices rotational grazing and they have added cross fencing to their land to prevent overgrazing. They have also created wetlands, buffers and riparian areas to improve water quality, reduce soil erosion and provide wildlife habitat.
Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. It should inspire other landowners through these examples and provides a visible forum where farmers, ranchers and other private landowners are recognized as conservation leaders. 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.”
The 2015 Leopold Conservation Award will be presented for the first time at the KACD Annual Convention in Wichita on. The award recipient will receive $10,000 and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold.
“KACD supports conservation programs that protect our state’s natural resources, and we are pleased to join Sand County Foundation and the Ranchland Trust of Kansas in recognizing exemplary land stewards for the Kansas Leopold Conservation Award,” said Jim Krueger, KACD executive director.
“The Ranchland Trust is honored to partner with KACD and Sand County Foundation in presenting the first Kansas Leopold Conservation Award. This state has a long, rich history of land conservation and stewardship, and this award highlights those who represent the legacy on our working farms and ranches. Congratulations to the finalists. We thank them for helping us preserve special places in Kansas,” added Bill Eastman, RTK chair of the board.
The Leopold Conservation Award Program in Kansas is made possible by the generous support of Clean Line Energy Partners, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Ducks Unlimited, International Transmission Company, NextEra Energy Resources, Westar Energy, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, DuPont Pioneer, Kansas Forestry Service, The Mosaic Company and The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.