Palmer to Honor Four Exemplary Conservation Champions at SCCA

Palmer Land Trust has announced the names of the three award winners, along with an honorary recognition, for the 2016 Southern Colorado Conservation Awards (SCCA). The group will be honored at Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs on Wednesday, September 28.

“Now in its seventh year, the Southern Colorado Conservation Awards have become the premiere conservation event in southern Colorado. This is reflected in the incredible depth and diversity of nominations we received. We are excited to share the stories of our winners and the remarkable impact they’ve had on their local communities,” said Rebecca Jewett, Executive Director of Palmer.

2016 Southern Colorado Conservation Award Recipients:

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.

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. This may have been done through grassroots efforts, exceptional land management practices, educational programs, protection of a significant property or important landscape, 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 honors 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 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.

Palmer will also pay 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 underwent a rigorous selection process by a 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; Rocky Mountain PBS Station Manager (retired), Wynona Sullivan; El Pomar President and Chief Investment Officer, Thayer Tutt; and retired attorney and former Palmer Board Trustee, Bruce Warren.

SCCA is a land conservation community recognition event focused on honoring the 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. The event serves more than just a select group of conservation insiders, and, as the increasing attendance demonstrates, brings a greater understanding of conservation’s importance to a diverse audience.

Each award winner will be featured in a brief film at the event on Wednesday, September 28, 2016, at Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs. Cocktails are at 5 p.m., followed by a farm-to-table dinner and the program at 6 p.m. Tickets are $100, or $40 for young professionals 35 and younger. For more information or to purchase seats click here.