Lowry family wins Leopold Conservation Award | TSLN.com

Lowry family wins Leopold Conservation Award

Sand County Foundation, the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition are proud to announce Rock Hills Ranch as the recipient of the 2014 Leopold Conservation Award. The award honors South Dakota landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.

Rock Hills Ranch of Lowry is owned and operated by Lyle and Garnet Perman, along with their son Luke and his wife Naomi. The Permans raise crops and Angus cattle, and manage 7,500 acres, most of it grassland. They have come to use an Aldo Leopold quote as a guidepost: "The landscape of any farm is the owner's portrait of himself." With that perspective, the Permans take a holistic approach to managing their land, livestock, wildlife and cultural resources.

"The management practices implemented on the Rock Hills Ranch demonstrate that active conservation efforts are not only good for the land, they are good for business," said South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard.

"Our goal is not to sustain what we have, but to regenerate (the native grassland) to what it was," Lyle Perman said.

The Permans have focused on creating conditions for good water infiltration on the ranch. They made decisions to rotational graze, adopt no-till practices and plant cover crops to increase the amount of water that soaks into the soil.

"Our number one goal is not to let a drop of water leave the ranch," Perman said.

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The Leopold Conservation Award is presented in honor of renowned conservationist and author Aldo Leopold, who called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage. 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 $10,000 award and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold, will be presented to the Permans at the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association's Annual Convention in December. The ranch will also be featured during a ranch tour July 2.

"The Permans are an extraordinary South Dakota agricultural family that embodies the very best in voluntary and innovative conservation of our natural resources," said Sand County Foundation President Brent Haglund.

"The South Dakota Cattlemen's Association is proud of the work the Permans have done to prioritize natural resource conservation. Their efforts are a great example for agricultural producers working to feed a growing world population while focusing on environmental stewardship," said Cory Eich, president, South Dakota Cattlemen's Association.

"The Perman family demonstrates that the importance of proper land management and balance of enterprises go hand-in-hand with caring for natural resources, especially water. They certainly challenge the rest of us in production agriculture to look at the big picture and the future of natural resource management in South Dakota and the nation," said Jim Faulstich, chairman, South Dakota Grassland Coalition.

–S.D. Cattlemen's Association