© Michael Menefee

2016 Southern Colorado Conservation Awards

Stuart P. Dodge Lifetime Achievement Award

The Stuart P. Dodge Award honors a lifetime achievement in conservation.
Winner:  Corwin Brown, Springfield, Colorado

Corwin has been a nearly lifelong resident of Southeastern Colorado, working as a landowner, rancher, ranch broker, and land appraiser and serving the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association in a variety of official and unofficial leadership roles. He was also involved in the creation of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust and as a Board member of the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition.

Environmental Stewardship Award

The Environmental Stewardship Award recognizes an individual or organization(s) that has positively impacted the land and the way members of our communities understand and respect their relationship to it, whether through recent efforts contributing to significant land protection, exceptional land management practices, educational programs, through strong grassroots efforts, or by way of example.
Winner: Galileo Gardens Project, Colorado Springs, Colorado

At Galileo School of Math and Science, hundreds of middle school youth, their teachers, school garden staff, and volunteers are converting 24,600 square feet of crusty, sterile, tennis court land into a dynamic, integrated organic ecosystem where urban agriculture, permaculture, and environmental education thrive. Students with little chance of exposure to environmental stewardship, conservation, or organic food because of the economic and social challenges that define their lives are making dramatic and long-lasting shifts in their relationship to the land, themselves, and their community.

The Innovation in Conservation Award

The Innovation in Conservation Award pays tribute to an individual, group, project, or program that has advanced the cause of conservation by developing new conservation models, creating new conservation funding mechanisms, or implementing unique conservation partnerships that protect our natural heritage.
Winner: Rocky Ford Grower’s Association and Hirakata Farms, Rocky Ford, Colorado

The Rocky Ford Grower’s Association was formed to strengthen and protect the reputation of the world famous Rocky Ford melons following the food safety crises that befell the industry in 2011. In one of the most troubling and uncertain times in the community’s history, Hirakata Farms, led by cousins Michael and Glenn Hirakata, was a source of hope and stability. Today the cousins have guided the association in adopting innovative conservation, growing, and processing methods for the melons and have invested in a state-of-the-art processing facility for the melons. The association has created a bright opportunity for the next generation of families in the Arkansas River Valley.

Friends of Southern Colorado Honorary Recognition

Palmer also paid tribute to Louis Bacon with the Friends of Southern Colorado Honorary Recognition in acknowledgement of the significant contributions he has made to conservation in southern Colorado. His support is highlighted by the authorization of conservation easement donations on approximately 167,000 acres on Trinchera Ranch in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the largest such donation received by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Combined with additional donations on Tercio and Red River Ranches, these donations help form a landscape-scale conservation effort of 800,000 acres of protected lands stretching from Great Sand Dunes National Park to northern New Mexico.

Award winners were nominated by the community at large and selected by an independent Blue Ribbon Panel. The 2016 panel includes: Pueblo County District Attorney, Jeff Chostner; Bee Vradenburg Foundation President, Phillip Kendall; Third Sector Group Principal, Kimberley Sherwood; retired Rocky Mountain PBS Station Manager, Wynona Sullivan; El Pomar President and Chief Investment Officer, Thayer Tutt; and retired attorney and former Palmer Trustee, Bruce Warren.

SCCA is a land conservation community recognition event. Community sponsorships help us cover the costs of producing this event. By making this a not-for-profit endeavor, we more effectively honor our winners and the many organizations and supporters that stand behind them. This, in turn, builds strength in the conservation community as a whole and greater political will for protecting the resources in Colorado that are important to all of us. We serve more than just a select group of conservation insiders, and, as our increasing attendance demonstrates, bring a greater understanding of conservation’s importance to a diverse audience. If you are interested in supporting or sponsoring this event, please contact Erica Oakley-Courage at [email protected]