2017 Southern Colorado Conservation Awards

© Michael Menefee
Southern Colorado Conservation Awards

September 27, 2017

5 - 8:30pm

Antlers Hotel

Colorado Springs, CO

The Southern Colorado Conservation Awards (SCCA) recognizes individuals and organizations that are dedicated to stewardship, education, and innovation in conservation impacting southern Colorado. Each of the eight years of SCCA, we have had many inspiring and diverse nominations. This year was no exception. Our Blue Ribbon Panel faced the tough task of choosing three winners from nominations submitted by the community at large

"This year's slate of award winners highlights inspiring stories from an incredibly diverse range of people and projects, including ranching in Westcliffe, recreation in Canon City, and water and land conservation on a statewide scale. We are excited to tell these stories."

-Palmer Land Trust Executive Director and event emcee, Rebecca Jewett 

The Awards

The Stuart P. Dodge Award honors a lifetime in achievement in conservation. 

Winner: Randy and Claricy Rusk, Westcliffe

Randy and Claricy are conservation pioneers. Their vision, leadership, and influence within the ranching community has largely been credited for the conservation success achieved in the Wet Mountain Valley and beyond over the last two-and-a-half decades. Working alongside The Trust for Public Land, San Isabel Land Protection Trust, and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, the Rusks have inspired their community to band together to conserve the rich ranching and open space heritage that has long defined the Wet Mountain Valley.

The Environment 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.

Winner: Kalem Lenard, Canon City

In 2012, as Kalem walked through cholla cactus and over granite boulders strewn across a little-known area five miles north of Canon City, his wife and two small children followed carefully beside him. He would point to a rise in the landscape and tell them it would one day be a trail that would climb above the valley and offer recreationists an unparalleled view of the Royal Gorge Region. Five years later, those same two children now ride mountain bikes on a system of 17 miles of trails enjoyed by hundreds of bikers, hikers, trail runners, and horsemen every year. Without Kalem’s vision, passion, and expertise, the Oil Well Flats trail system might never have come to fruition.

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: Colorado Water Trust

The Colorado Water Trust was formed in 2001 to partner with Colorado's Instream Flow Program and amplify its work by supporting and promoting voluntary, market-based efforts to protect and restore Colorado’s streamflows. Today, the Colorado Water Trust is the only nonprofit organization solely dedicated to restoring flows on Colorado's rivers using market-based transactions. Through its do-tank (not think-tank) approach, the Water Trust has revealed water-sharing possibilities that have never been done before, finding sweet spots to meet the needs of agricultural partners while providing water for rivers.

The Distinction in Conservation Award is a prestigious discretionary award determined by the Blue Ribbon Panel recognizing catalytic excellence and influence in conservation in southern Colorado.

Winner: Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO)

This award is an acknowledgement of GOCO’s tremendous vision and impact on state land conservation. Since its inception in 1992, GOCO has committed more than $917 million in state lottery proceeds to more than 4,800 projects in all 64 counties in Colorado without any tax dollar support. Through their efforts they have helped protect more than one million acres of land.

The Event

Each award winner will be featured in a brief film at the event on Wednesday, September 27, at The Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs. Cocktails are at 5 p.m., followed by a farm-to-table dinner featuring local food, and the program at 6 p.m. Tickets are $125 with a special ticket price of $50 for young professionals 39 and younger. Organizations can also sponsor a 10-person table. 

If you need more information or have questions please contact Erica Oakley-Courage at [email protected].  See you at SCCA! 


David C. Conley, Attorney 

Carla Hartsell 

Pueblo District Attorney