Leopold Conservation Award
Aldo Leopold, whose writings and land ownership inspire Sand County Foundation’s devotion to the cause of private landowner conservation leadership, wrote that the landscape of any farm is the owner’s portrait of himself. The Leopold Conservation Awards honor landowners who work ceaselessly to paint beautiful landscapes across our nation.
The Leopold Conservation Awards recognize landowners actively committed to a land ethic. Working with prominent state conservation partners, Sand County Foundation presents the award, which consists of $10,000 and a Leopold crystal, in settings that showcase the landowners’ achievements among their peers.
The Leopold Conservation Award in South Dakota is possible thanks to generous contributions from many organizations, including: American State Bank, Belle Fourche River Watershed Partnership, Daybreak Ranch, Ducks Unlimited, Farm Credit, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Millborn Seeds, Mortenson Family, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Partners for Fish & Wildlife, Professional Alliance, South Dakota’s Conservation Districts, South Dakota Department of Environment & Natural Resources, South Dakota Farm Bureau, South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks, South Dakota Grassland Coalition, South Dakota State University Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and Wild Life Fund.
2018 – Cammack Ranch, Union Center, SD
Cammack Ranch is owned and operated by State Senator Gary Cammack, and his wife, Amy. They raise beef cattle on 11,000 acres of grazing land in Meade County, where they have implemented rotational grazing practices, constructed windbreaks, and planted more than 30,000 trees. Their improvements have resulted in abundant wildlife, and healthy soil, grasslands and cattle.
2017 – Blue Bell Ranch, Clear Lake, SD
When you ask Herb Hamann about his conservation ethic and why he goes the extra mile to improve the land, he will simply give a shrug of the shoulders and say that “it’s just the right thing to do.” Herb and his wife Bev, along with their children, Breck and Arla, own and manage Blue Bell Ranch. The family is strong in their belief that their base asset is the grassland itself, and the cows are simply the tool to harvest the grass.
Cronin Farms was established in 1910, when Carl Cronin moved from Nebraska to South Dakota. Ever since the beginning, the farm has been a diverse mix-livestock and crop enterprise. Today the farm is managed by Monty and Mike Cronin, along with their agronomy manager Dan Forgey.
The Jorgensens have made a living from farming and ranching for more than 100 years. Humbly beginning as a small family farm, Jorgensen Land and Cattle Partnership has grown to include livestock, a large variety of crops and a hunting business.
Holistic resources management focused on long-term sustainability is a way of life at Rock Hills Ranch. Lyle and Garnet Perman, along with their son Luke and his wife Naomi, raise crops and Angus cattle on the 7,500-acre ranch near Lowry.
Guptill Ranch in western South Dakota is a 7,000-acre cattle operation near Quinn. Pat and Mary Lou Guptill have owned and operated this family-run ranch for the past 25 years. With their five children, they are caretakers of this special landscape in western South Dakota. The area features grasslands with rolling hills and a main wooded creek running through the ranch.
The Koprivas have made conservation a family tradition, and their grassland, water, and wildlife habitat management techniques are a clear demonstration that responsible environmental management and successful agricultural operations can readily co-exist.
Clarence Moretenson's vision has been embraced by his sons, Todd, Jeff, and Curt, who currently operate Mortenson Ranch. In the 1980s, Todd learned about holistic management that moves cattle across the land similar to the movement of buffalo herds. In the spring, the herds graze on
Rick and Marlis Doud operate 6,000 deeded acres and 2,500 leased acres on which they run nearly 400 cow-calf pairs. They made a significant switch in their management technique when they transitioned to rotational grazing and a summer calving program at the beginning of the decade, which the Douds credit as the catalyst for tremendous improvement in the productivity and diversity of the grasses in their rotated pastures even in the face of severe drought.