Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award recipient announced | TSLN.com

Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award recipient announced

Sand County Foundation, the Nebraska Cattlemen and Cargill are proud to announce the Pelster Angus Ranch as the recipient of the 2014 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award. The annual award honors Nebraska landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.

Duane and Nancy (Malmsten) Pelster represent the third generation to manage this ranchland along the Cedar River in the Nebraska Sandhills. Duane's ongoing development of a management plan has increased livestock profitability and land health simultaneously. He is committed to responsible, sustainable land management and is recognized as a pioneer in the use of rotational grazing.

The grazing practices, combined with ongoing cedar and weed control, have improved grass health and allowed wildlife to thrive. Prairie chickens, deer, ducks and geese abound on the ranch, in addition to a pond of otters. Leaving standing grass for nesting and fawning has also enabled limited hunting on the ranch.

Over the years, the Pelsters have reduced the risk of soil damage and made conditions better for livestock and wildlife by installing over 25 miles of pipeline. Nearly 80,000 coniferous trees have been planted to provide shelterbelts and windbreaks on the ranch. To benefit water quality, Duane decommissioned 27 wells and made a special effort to maintain healthy stands of riparian vegetation along the entire length of the Cedar River within his ownership.

"The Pelsters carry on a long-standing family commitment to ranching practices that benefit the land, wildlife and all of us," said Brent Haglund, president, Sand County Foundation.

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.

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The $10,000, and a crystal award depicting Aldo Leopold, will be presented to the Pelsters at the Nebraska Cattlemen's Annual Convention in December.

"As farmers and ranchers it is our responsibility to preserve and protect the land for future generations," Nebraska Cattlemen president Jeff Rudolph said. "The Pelster family is an excellent example of ranchers who are committed to living as responsible stewards of the land."

"On behalf of Cargill's customers and employees, we are proud to recognize Pelster Ranch for conservation that increases the sustainability of animal agriculture in the U.S.," said Jarrod Gillig, vice president and general manager at Cargill's Schuyler, Neb., beef processing plant. "Through effective land management that includes livestock grazing and preservation of wildlife habitats, Pelster Ranch is a shining example of best practices for cattle and beef production."

–Nebraska Cattlemen