Two Finalists Selected for Montana Leopold Conservation Award
HELENA, MT – Two finalists have been selected for the prestigious Montana Leopold Conservation Award®.
Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes farmers, ranchers, foresters and other landowners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat management on private, working land.
This is second year the $10,000 award has been presented in Montana.
The Leopold Conservation Award is presented to private landowners in 21 states with a variety of conservation, agricultural and forestry organizations. In Montana, Sand County Foundation presents the award with Governor Steve Bullock’s Office, Montana Department of Agriculture, and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Rangeland Resources Committee.
The finalists are:
Craig and Conni French of Malta in Phillips County: Innovative grazing practices are used at French Ranch to improve soil health and water quality. Temporary, wildlife-friendly fencing for beef cattle reduces barriers for migratory pronghorn, mule deer and elk. Livestock water tanks and windbreaks have been moved away from the ranch’s three miles of shoreline along Beaver Creek. The Frenches work with The Nature Conservancy to establish habitat for threatened grassland birds and sage grouse.
Pete and Meagan Lannan of Livingston in Park County: Regenerative agriculture practices used at Barney Creek Livestock are improving the soil and building the resiliency of rangeland. Intensive rotational grazing of their beef cattle is designed around being ecologically and economically profitable. Efforts such as fencing off riparian areas are improving water quality while providing quality habitat for wildlife including sandhill cranes, bees and mule deer.
Earlier this year, Montana landowners were encouraged to apply (or be nominated) for the award. Applications were reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders.
The award recipient will be revealed at the Montana Range Tour on September 9. Last year’s recipient was Bill and Dana Milton of Roundup in Musselshell County.
“The Montana Leopold Conservation Award finalists demonstrate the many ways in which caring for the health of our land, streams, and wildlife goes hand in hand with maintaining productive farm and ranchland operations,” said Governor Steve Bullock. “I’m grateful for the contributions of our state’s landowners in sustaining the landscapes and values we care deeply about as Montanans and for inspiring future generations to engage in environmental stewardship.”
“Recipients of this award are real life examples of conservation-minded agriculture,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer. “These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system and rural economy.”
The Montana Leopold Conservation Award is made possible through the generous support of Governor Steve Bullock’s Office, Montana Department of Agriculture, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Rangeland Resources Committee, Sand County Foundation, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Sibanye-Stillwater, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, World Wildlife Fund, McDonald’s, Montana Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Montana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, Ranchers Stewardship Alliance, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Society for Range Management – Northern Great Plains Section, and The Wildlife Society of Montana.
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.”
For more information on the award, visit http://www.leopoldconservationaward.org.
–Sand County Foundation
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Oct. 23, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News