Finalists Named for 2016 South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award® | TSLN.com

Finalists Named for 2016 South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award®

Sand County Foundation, the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition are proud to announce the finalists for the 2016 Leopold Conservation Award®, which honors South Dakota landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.

The finalists are:

Cammack Ranch of Union Center, a cow/calf ranch with 10,000 grazing acres owned by Gary and Amy Cammack. The Cammack family has implemented rotational grazing, constructed windbreaks, and planted over 30,000 trees on their ranch.

Center of the Nation Cattle Company of Newell, a 106 year old, fourth generation cow/calf ranch owned and managed by Jeff and Steve Smeenk, along with their wives Kim and Kay. The Smeenks practice rotational grazing and enhance sage grouse and other wildlife habitat on their land.

Cronin Farms of Gettysburg, a multi-generational mixed livestock and crop farm owned by Monty and Mike Cronin and their wives Nancy and Jamie. The farm practices a holistic approach to land management and utilizes no-till techniques and diverse rotations.

John and Donita Moes of Florence. The Moes family owns and runs a cow/calf ranch and farm including a feedlot and ag waste pond. They have adopted no-till practices, rotational grazing, and planted several acres of trees and native grasses.

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Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. It inspires 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."

Award applicants are judged based on their demonstration of improved resource conditions, innovation, long-term commitment to stewardship, sustained economic viability, community and civic leadership, and multiple use benefits.

The 2016 award recipient, who will receive $10,000 and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold, will be announced in late-April and recognized at the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association's Annual Convention in November.

"South Dakota landowners are leaders in voluntary conservation and we are pleased to present the Leopold Conservation Award as a means of highlighting their conservation practices. SDCA is proud to recognize these finalists for making conservation a priority on their family farms and ranches," said Todd Wilkinson, a cattle feeder and president of the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association.

"Natural resource stewardship is important to the success and sustainability of our working lands and the Grassland Coalition is pleased to honor an outstanding landowner with the Leopold Conservation Award. Our lengthy list of partners and sponsors is indicative of the broad interest South Dakotans have in preserving the resources in our care," said Jim Faulstich, Chairman, South Dakota Grassland Coalition.

The Leopold Conservation Award in South Dakota is possible thanks to generous contributions from many organizations, including: South Dakota Department of Environment & Natural Resources Discovery Center, Bad River Ranches, South Dakota Cattlemen's Association, South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks, South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation, First Dakota National Bank, South Dakota Grassland Coalition, South Dakota State University College of Ag and Biological Sciences, Belle Fourche River Watershed Partnership, Daybreak Ranch, Ducks Unlimited, Millborn Seeds, Mortenson Family, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Professional Alliance, South Dakota's Conservation Districts, South Dakota Department of Agriculture Resource Conservation & Forestry, The Nature Conservancy Western Dakotas Program, World Wildlife Fund Northern Great Plains, US Fish & Wildlife Service, South Dakota Pheasants Forever, DuPont Pioneer and The Mosaic Company.

–SDCA

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