Tri-State, San Isabel Electric Association and Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are proud to be among this year’s sponsors of the 2014 Colorado Leopold Conservation Award, which recognizes extraordinary achievement by private landowners in voluntary conservation. This year’s winners are Gary and Georgia Walker.
This award is named for renowned conservationist, Aldo Leopold.
Tri-State and its member systems are also helping to support the Leopold Award winners in Nebraska and Wyoming, which will be included in a more in-depth article appearing in the upcoming summer edition of the association’s Network Magazine.
On a massive 30-mile long spread near Pueblo-West, Colo., Gary and Georgia Walker, owners of the 65,000-acre Turkey Creek Ranch, have demonstrated a passion for protecting wildlife, rare plant species and an overall commitment to long-term land stewardship that is sure to inspire other farmers, ranchers and conservation leaders throughout the state and country.
The businesses of cattle ranching and effective wildlife management can complement one another and the Walker family’s more than 50 years of hard work on this ranch proves it. Under an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they reintroduced black footed ferrets on their property. This tenacious and elusive little animal was once thought to be extinct in eastern Colorado.
“The Walkers’ passion for caring for the habitat and rare plant species on their land, near a growing urban community, sets a remarkable example of leadership,” said Sand County Foundation President Brent Haglund.
“The Walkers balance a love of the land and a dedication to preserving wildlife with cattle ranching,” said Gene Manuello, president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. “The 14 years of sustained drought have put unfathomable pressure on producers in southeastern Colorado. The Walkers’ forethought and planning included the installation of a large network of pipelines, water storage tanks and stock ponds, which have played an integral part in the long-term viability of the Turkey Creek Ranch as a home to livestock and wildlife,” he added.