Walker family receives 2014 Leopold Conservation Award
Turkey Creek Ranch, sandwiched between the U.S. Army’s Fort Carson and the growing urban community of Pueblo West, is owned and operated by Gary and Georgia Walker, and consists of approximately 65,000 deeded acres managed for both wildlife and livestock.
The Walkers’ ranch has been described as an island of intact natural systems, native species and quiet, open spaces. It is home to significant populations of three rare, indigenous plants and native wildlife species including antelope, elk, deer, pronghorn and wild turkey. Management decisions, including even basic visitation to some areas of the property, are governed by the potential impact on wildlife.
“Few, if any, ranches of such size and natural condition remain so close to a major Colorado metropolitan area, a testament to the landowner who values his home and the land surrounding it for far more than development value,” wrote Matt Moorhead of The Nature Conservancy in a nomination letter.
The act of cattle ranching and wildlife management go hand in hand, and the life’s work of the Walkers proves it. Under a Safe Harbor Agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they successfully re-introduced black footed ferrets, which were once thought to be extinct. A total of 55 ferrets were released on the ranch in 2013, reviving the species’ presence in the region and providing a natural predator of the prairie dog.
The Walkers’ forethought and long term planning has also included the installation of pipelines, water storage tanks and stock ponds, playing an integral role in the viability of the Turkey Creek Ranch as a home to livestock and wildlife.
The Walkers are lauded by community leaders and fellow ranchers for their steadfast commitment to the land, wildlife and environment for the benefit of generations to come.
Sand County Foundation
Sand County Foundation is a private, non-profit conservation group dedicated to working with private landowners to improve habitat on their land. Sand County’s mission is to advance the use of ethical and scientifically sound land management practices and partnerships for the benefit of people and their rural landscapes. Sand County Foundation works with private landowners because the majority of the nation’s fish, wildlife, and natural resources are found on private lands. The organization backs local champions, invests in civil society and places incentives before regulation to create solutions that ensure and grow. The organization encourages the exercise of private responsibility in the pursuit of improved land health as an essential alternative to many of the commonly used strategies in modern conservation.
The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is the state’s only nonprofit trade organization exclusively representing Colorado’s beef producers. Founded in 1867, CCA is the nation’s oldest state cattlemen’s association. CCA serves its members by speaking out on behalf of Colorado’s more than 12,000 beef producers.
Recognizing the need to help Colorado ranchers and farmers protect their agricultural lands, in the face of growing development and economic pressures, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association in 1995 formed the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust.
Peabody Energy’s products fuel approximately 10 percent of America’s, and 2 percent of the world’s electricity. The company serves customers in 21 nations representing more than half of the world’s population. Peabody achieves strong productivity and safety results and continues to receive the industry’s highest honors for land restoration and environmental stewardship.
Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association is a wholesale electric power supplier owned by the 44 electric cooperatives and public power districts it serves. Tri State Generation & Transmission Assoc. generates and transports electricity to its member systems across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.
Founded in 1916, American AgCredit is part of the nationwide Farm Credit System, and is the nation’s 6th largest Farm Credit cooperative. American AgCredit specializes in providing financial services to agricultural and rural customers throughout California, Nevada, Central Kansas, Northern Oklahoma, Central and Western Colorado, and Northern New Mexico –as well as to capital markets customers in 30 states.