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Southern Colorado Conservation Awards to be presented October 9

September 17, 2013

Join Palmer Land Trust as we honor our 2013 Award Recipients on October 9, 2013, at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, 3225 Broadmoor Valley Road, Colorado Springs.  Cocktails begin at 5:00 pm, followed by a farm-to-table dinner at 6:00. Register Today!

In addition to celebrating our Award recipients, the 2013 event will also celebrate the completion of the Pikes Peak Conservation Corridor, a 6,000-acre block of protected public open space and private ranches that frame the northern slope of Pikes Peak between Woodland Park and Divide.

2013 SOUTHERN COLORADO CONSERVATION AWARD WINNERS

This year's recipients were selected from nominations submitted by citizens living and working across southern Colorado. The diversity of accomplishments represented in this group recognizes trendsetting conservation achievements in Southern Colorado. Winners were selected by a Blue Ribbon Panel that included Pueblo County District Attorney, Jeff Chostner; Bee Vradenburg Foundation President, Phillip Kendall; Founder of the Pikes Peak Conservation Fund of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, Kathy Loo; Rocky Mountain PBS Station Manager (retired), Wynona Sullivan; and El Pomar President and Chief Investment Officer, Thayer Tutt.

The Stuart P. Dodge Award: Walt Hecox, Professor of Economics in the Environmental Program at Colorado College and the Project Director of the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project. 
This award honors an individual or entity for a lifetime record of conservation achievement. The award is inspired by Stuart P. Dodge, whose exceptional service to Colorado set a benchmark for conservation leadership throughout the state.

In more than 40 years of teaching at Colorado College, Dr. Walter Hecox has been a leader in bringing students from the “global to the local,” applying their lessons in economics directly to the world in which they live. Professor Hecox founded the unique State of the Rockies Project, leading students as they conducted “state-of-the-art research helping Rockies residents clearly see our communities, our environment, and our economy so that we can better shape our future.” The project is likely the most comprehensive research effort by an undergraduate college to focus on a multi-state region’s environmental and socio-economic challenges. Dr. Hecox was among the first academics to bring a social science perspective to the topic of environmental conservation, pioneering the Environmental Policy major at CC. He has made a permanent impact on the study of ecological questions, inspired multitudes of students, and served to inform the Rocky Mountain Region about its “state of environmental health” via research and informed students. As the number of student research alumni continues to grow, a legacy of bright young people are inspired to become active citizens and leaders in the conservation arena.

The Friends of Open Space Award: Harry Talbott and Talbott Family Farms. 
This award honors an individual or entity for efforts that led to the protection of a significant property or landscape in southern Colorado.
In 1980, Harry Talbott, along with a group of Palisade farmers, founded the Mesa Land Trust with the intention of preserving the farmlands in the east end of the Grand Valley. The threat of intense development from the oil shale boom posed a great threat to the area. Mesa County Land Conservancy was one of the country’s first three organizations devoted to agricultural land conservation and was the nation’s first created by farmers. Today, this area thrives as an agricultural community with a sustainable economy.

A fourth generation fruit grower, Harry runs Talbott Farms with three of his sons. As a team, the Talbotts have added additional easements and continue to inspire other farmers to add conservation easements. Their operation annually packs and ships about 9 million pounds of peaches, close to 60% of the state’s commercial peach crop. Talbott Farms also grows 160 acres of wine grapes, about 15% of the state’s total. Talbott Farms helped shape and promote the Fruitlands Forever Initiative, a Mesa Land Trust-led effort to conserve a critical mass of land to support the fruit industry into the future. Today, the Fruitlands Forever effort has conserved 730 acres through conservation agreements covering over 45 family farms, well on its way towards its goal of conserving 1,000 acres of prime fruit-growing land.

The Stewardship Award: Renée Rondeau, Ecologist and Conservation Planner, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, CSU. 
This award honors individuals and entities that have positively impacted the land and the way members of our communities understand and respect their relationship to the land. 

Renée Rondeau has led a great many conservation efforts throughout Colorado during her distinguished career. She played key roles in the creation of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, and in Northern Colorado’s Mountain to Plains Project. Renee led the Southeast Colorado Biological Inventory in 2007. The Southeast Colorado Biological Inventory has been a collaborative effort among southeastern Colorado’s private landowners and biologists from the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP), Denver Botanic Gardens, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, and the CSU Larval Fish Lab. Local support for this project was catalyzed by the proposed expansion of the Pinyon Canyon Maneuver site. It is now clear that this project has taken on a life of its own and has led to fundamental changes in how conservation efforts are valued by southeastern Colorado landowners and ranchers. CNHP has now partnered with over 50 ranches to expand the awareness of biodiversity stewardship and conservation opportunities in the area. Renée is recognized for her leadership in southeastern Colorado’s transformation from a climate of isolation and distrust into one of the most active and progressive areas for conservation in the West.

The Innovation in Conservation Award: Arkansas Voluntary Flow Management Program, Arkansas River Outfitters Association. 
This award honors an individual, group, project, or program that has advanced the cause of conservation by developing new conservation models, created new conservation funding mechanisms, and/or implemented unique conservation partnerships that protect our natural heritage.

The Arkansas River Voluntary Flow Management Program (VFMP), a cooperative effort between Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado Trout Unlimited, the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Chaffee County and Arkansas River Outfitters Association (AROA), is a unique water management program that monitors the volume of water that flows downriver, allowing a consistent flow during the summer season, thus benefitting both tourism and economic stability for this region. After 20 successful years, the program is viewed nationally as a model for cooperative water flow programs.

The VFMP’s annual operation during the season benefits not only rafting companies and private boaters, but also the many communities and municipalities that depend on tourism for their very survival. The VFMP enhances the experience of visiting the Arkansas River, ensuring the opportunity to enjoy scenic beauty, whitewater thrills, excellent family-class rafting, as well as providing healthy habitat for the popular Brown Trout during the peak tourism season from July 1 through August 15. The program contributes to sustaining the river’s flow through Pueblo and onto agricultural land in the Lower Arkansas Valley.

Register Today!