Finalists Named for 2015 Utah Leopold Conservation Award

Sand County Foundation, in partnership with the Utah Farm Bureau FederationWestern AgCredit and the Utah Cattlemen’s Association, are proud to announce the finalists for the prestigious Utah Leopold Conservation Award which honors Utah landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.

The finalists are:

  • Andy Taft, who owns and manages Taft Ranch in Wayne and Garfield Counties. Primarily raising sheep on critical Greater Sage-Grouse habitat, Taft also grows hay. To improve livestock distribution and wildlife habitat, Taft worked with others to build and maintain a water pipeline to deliver water to ponds. He also frequently hosts students and media during lambing season.
  • William Goring and his family, who own and manage Goring Ranch, a third generation sheep husbandry business in Box Elder County. Over the years the Gorings have merged several sheep outfits to self-sustain their replacement ewes. The Gorings have implemented extensive water systems, installed fencing, removed invasive plants and revitalized their forest. The family also frequently hosts demonstration workshops.
  • Jerrold Richins, who owns and manages a sheep and cattle ranch in Summit County. He played a key role in the improvement of the Chalk Creek Watershed and his project to install erosion control structures has been credited as the catalyst for other conservation practices to improve the watershed. Richins also uses an automated irrigation system to reduce energy and water use, as well as significant reductions in field runoff.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. It inspires other landowners through these examples and provides a visible forum where farmers, ranchers and other private landowners are recognized as conservation leaders. In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.” 

The Leopold Conservation Award finalists will be recognized at the annual meeting of the Utah Association of Conservation Districts, Nov. 5 in St. George. The winner will be named, and the award presented, at the Utah Farm Bureau’s Convention on November 20. The award recipient will receive $10,000 and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold.

“We congratulate these families on the recognition that comes from being listed as finalist for this award. While we can only recognize a few families here, they truly represent the vast majority of farmers and ranchers in our state who feel a sense of responsibility to the land and animals,” said Leland Hogan, President, Utah Farm Bureau Federation.


“The Utah Cattlemen's Association is proud to be a part of a cooperative effort to recognize Utah landowners who practice outstanding stewardship and dedication to the principles of conservation,” said Brent Tanner, Executive Vice President, Utah Cattlemen's Association.


“Western AgCredit is proud to sponsor the Leopold Conservation Award in Utah. These ranching families have worked for generations to improve the quality and production capacity of their ranches. Conservation is a way of life to these families and we appreciate their commitment to improving the environment,” said Dick Weathered, CEO, Western AgCredit.