Doud Ranch receives 2010 Leopold Conservation Award | TSLN.com

Doud Ranch receives 2010 Leopold Conservation Award

Rick and Marlis Doud, of Doud Ranch located in Haakon County, were honored with the 2010 Leopold Conservation Award, presented by the Sand County Foundation in partnership with the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association (SDCA) and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition (SDGC). The award was given to the Douds at the 2010 SDCA Trade Show and Convention in Aberdeen, SD on Dec. 1, 2010.

Doud Ranch consists of 6,000 deeded acres and 2,500 leased acres, where Rick and Marlis run 400 cow-calf pairs. The Douds were nominated for this award because of their commitment to environmental stewardship. They practice rotational grazing and calve their cows in the summer, which they say helps to improve productivity and diversity of the grasses even in times of drought. They have installed more than 15 miles of water pipeline and 20 water tanks. In addition, they have planted three shelterbelts to catch snow and runoff, as well as provide cover for wildlife.

The Leopold Conservation Award, named in honor of world-renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation, and the Douds were the first honorees in South Dakota. The award is also given to honored farmers and ranchers in the states of California, Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. Doud Ranch was among four finalists including: Dorn and Linda Barnes (Hyde County); the Paulson family (Jerauld County); and Mark and Sharon Stime (Brookings County). The Douds received a Leopold crystal and a check for $10,000.

“Bringing this award to South Dakota is a great opportunity to inspire other landowners in the state and provides the chance to share with the urban community the work, toil and achievements to manage the state’s natural resources,” said Brent Haglund, Ph.D., Sand County Foundation President. “Farmers and ranchers have a call to personal responsibility to leave the land better than it was found. The Leopold award recognizes those who have strong ethics and good science that they apply to make meaningful improvements to the land.”

The Leopold Conservation Award in South Dakota was made possible because of the many contributions given by the following sponsors: the Bradley Fund for the Environment, American State Bank, Daybreak Ranch, Ducks Unlimited, Millborn Seeds, the Natural Resources Conversation Service, the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, the South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation, the South Dakota Grassland Coalition, and The Nature Conservancy.

“I don’t think I have the words for how I feel right now; I’m deeply humbled,” said Rick Doud. “What we have learned is that when you give the land a chance, it richly rewards you in what it gives back. We are excited about the beef cattle industry and the opportunity to be a part of it. We want to thank our family, especially my parents who taught me everything I know about the land, cattle and God. Part of this reward really belongs to them.”

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“I want to say that I’m so proud of the man I have shared my life with,” said Marlis Doud. “He has done such wonderful things for our ranch, and I feel so blessed. May God bless all of you as we have been so blessed.”

“I would agree; I couldn’t have done this without my best friend, Marlis,” added Rick.

“Without contradiction, the finalists, including the Douds, are extremely diplomatic and charismatic people who have sometimes had to make difficult decisions to stay economically viable while improving their environmental stewardship,” said Haglund. “We respect them immensely. Congratulations again to Rick and Marlis. We know there are probably hundreds of candidates who fall under this level of excellence. The health of South Dakota’s land depends on the ranchers who care and manage the land.”

Environmental stewardship goes hand-in-hand with cattle ranching. Doud Ranch was warmly received and congratulated by the attendants at the SDCA Convention. For more information or to nominate a ranch for the 2011 award, visit http://www.leopoldconservationaward.org.

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