Aldo Leopold and The Leopold Conservation Award – Written By Larry Kueter

Life is fascinating as it makes connections in ways that we do not anticipate.  My involvement with the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust and the involvement of CCALT with the presentation of the Aldo Leopold Award is an example of such a connection.  Maybe it should not be surprising that something to do with Aldo Leopold would also start a conversation about how people intersect with the land.  After all, he preached about the ethics and interconnectedness of man and nature.

As legal counsel for CCALT for the last twenty years, I have watched CCALT become involved with the annual Aldo Leopold Award, and have seen it become a significant event for the organization and the landowners receiving the award.

As an individual, I grew up knowing Aldo Leopold as a conservation icon in my family.  My father once bought a limited edition lithograph of Leopold on his Sand County farm; that lithograph still hangs in a place of honor in my mother’s living room.

As a professional conservation attorney, I had the opportunity to represent the Clear Creek Land Conservancy in a transaction accepting a conservation easement on several hundred acres of land in Clear Creek County owned by Estella Leopold, Aldo Leopold’s daughter.  I also met Nina Leopold Bradley, another of his daughters, at a conservation event in Denver, which is how I came to have a first edition of Aldo Leopold’s iconic Sand County Almanac inscribed by two daughters.

My mother and father also met one of the daughters, although they didn’t know which one, when they were knocking on doors along Levee Road near Baraboo Wisconsin.  They were looking for the property on which Leopold had his “chicken shack,” and she directed them to it.  I also had a chance to visit the Sand County property on a field trip of the Land Trust Alliance at one of its Rallies in Madison, Wisconsin.  I remember seeing people on the field trip who all had looks on their faces that said what I was thinking, that “something important happened here.”

All of this provides me with what feels like a personal connection with Aldo Leopold, even though he died well before I could have known him.  I am proud to be connected to the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust and its involvement in giving an award in Colorado to a rancher who embodies Aldo Leopold’s land ethic and spirit.

I would like to congratulate the Flying Diamond Ranch and the Johnson Family, pictured above and winners of the 2015 award, for their dedication to conservation practices in Colorado.