Blue Bell Ranch, Clear Lake, S.D., is the 2017 South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award winner.
The annual award honors South Dakota landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources. It is sponsored by the Sand County Foundation, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, the South Dakota Grassland Coalition and many other groups and businesses in South Dakota.
Owned and managed by Herb and Beverly Hamann, along with their son Breck Hamann and daughter Arla Poindexter, Blue Bell Ranch includes more than 5,000 acres of native grasslands and wetlands that serve as an “ecological anchor” on the southern end of the Prairie Coteau Hills in eastern South Dakota, according to the award announcement issued by the South Dakota Cattlemen.
The Hamanns have worked to maintain an excellent diversity of native vegetation on the ranch, and they consider ecological impacts and critical wildlife needs when grazing cattle.
The couple implement conservation practices with or without incentives. Incorporating prescribed fire, biological control for invasive plant species and changing to May calving dates, the Hamann family has begun influencing neighboring ranches that are seeing the positive results of working with the landscape instead of working on the landscape.
The Leopold Conservation Award is presented in honor of 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 Hamanns during the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association Annual Convention in November.
“The Hamanns offer a great example of how cattle production can mesh with care and maintenance of the land while not sacrificing profitability,” says Larry Stomprud, SDCA president and cow-calf producer from Mud Butte.
“The Blue Bell Ranch serves as a model for preservation of our grasslands. Herb and his family have shown that healthy grasslands are at the core of their operation, and that those grasslands are a logical starting point from which all other management decisions flow. Their leadership in wise use of grassland resources toward long-term goals for future generations is commendable and serves as a great example for those in both the livestock and conservation arenas,” states 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 and Natural Resources Discovery Center, Bad River Ranches, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation, First Dakota National Bank, South Dakota Grassland Coalition, South Dakota State University College of Ag and Biological Sciences, American Bank and Trust, 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 and Forestry, The Nature Conservancy Western Dakotas Program, World Wildlife Fund Northern Great Plains, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and South Dakota Pheasants Forever.
Source: South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association