Leopold Conservation Award in California presented to Chet Vogt

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 12, 2008
by WLJ
Leopold Conservation Award in California presented to Chet Vogt

California rancher Chet Vogt of Elk Creek, CA, has received the 2008 Leopold Conservation Award for exemplary environmental stewardship from Sand County Foundation, California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF), and Sustainable Conservation. He received the award at last week’s CFBF meeting in Burlingame, CA. “Chet Vogt has dedicated himself to innovation in environmentally beneficial ranching practices for three decades,” said A.G. Kawamura, secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture and a judge for the Leopold Conservation Award. “He demonstrates the natural compatibility between raising cattle and caring for the land, and he inspires all ranchers and farmers to work from that understanding.”

Named in honor of worldrenowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award carries a $10,000 cash award.

The award is presented to: recognize extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation by exemplary private landowners; inspire other landowners; and showcase these conservation leaders to people outside of agriculture.

Vogt’s Three Creeks Ranch in Glenn County is a 500 cow/calf operation that successfully integrates environmental and economic sustainability on 5,300 acres of winter rangeland, supplemented by a summer grazing permit.

The core of Vogt’s holistic approach is intensive managed grazing which rotates the cattle among 32 fenced paddocks so that each area experiences only about 15 days a year of grazing and about 350 days of rest. This supports native perennial grasses, healthy cattle, and increased water retention in the soil. Vogt has also fenced off riparian corridors and livestock ponds as special management zones that receive short-duration grazing so that native plants can thrive and provide abundant nesting habitat for birds and other wildlife—tricolored blackbirds, box turtles, California quail, black-tail deer and many others.

Vogt is widely respected for bridging the gap between cattle ranchers and environmental advocates, forging effective partnerships and cultivating productive ongoing communication.

He frequently hosts workshops and field trips on Three Creeks Ranch to educate ranchers, regulators and environmental scientists about his innovative practices. He has held numerous community leadership positions and currently serves California Cattlemen’s Association as the Rangeland Improvement Committee chairman. Vogt is actively involved with the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition which began in 2004 as a partnership between California Cattlemen’s Association, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and several environmental organizations to find common ground in rangeland conservation, and now encompasses nearly 100 agricultural, environmental and government organizations.

“It’s exciting to see California farmers and ranchers like Chet Vogt who dedicate themselves to caring for the land and operating a profitable business,” said Cornelius Gallagher, senior vice president, Bank of America, and a judge for the Leopold Conservation Award. “He is a leader both in agriculture and in conservation, producing not only beef, but also clean water and healthy wildlife habitat.”

In 2008, Sand County Foundation will present Leopold Conservation Awards in seven states: California, Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Utah. In California, Sand County Foundation presents the award in partnership with Sustainable Conservation and CFBF, and with the support of PG&E, S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Audubon California, California Waterfowl Association, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited and The Trust for Public Land. The 2008 finalists in California were: Howe Creek Ranch, Steve and Jill Hackett—Ferndale, CA (Humboldt County); and Montna Farms, Alfred G. Montna—Yuba City, CA (Sutter County).

“Each year, the selection committee encounters a range of California ranchers and farmers who are doing good work for agriculture and the environment,” said Dr. Brent Haglund, Sand County Foundation president. “This year’s winner, Chet Vogt, has been an agricultural leader for years. Now he is also being recognized as a conservation leader.” — WLJ