2013 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award recipient named; Beel Ranch

May 10, 2013
by WLJ

—Award recognizes landowners who exemplify outstanding stewardship

Nebraska Cattlemen (NC), Sand County Foundation and Cargill are proud to announce The Beel Ranch as the recipient of the 2013 Leopold Conservation Award, which honors Nebraska landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.

Celebrating 75 years on their nearly 22,000-acre cattle operation near Johnstown, brothers Frank, Henry and Adam, along with their wives Jennifer, Mary and Jenny, own and operate The Beel Ranch. The ranch was handed down by their father and grandfather who instilled in them the importance of treating the land with care. Today, they make it a priority to teach their own children the importance of maintaining and caring for our natural environment.

Ranch records indicate that in 1945, grandfather Henry O. Beel entered into the first of many conservation plans for the ranch. It developed a soil and water plan allowing for rotational grazing, weed mowing, seeding of wheat and more thoughtful well placement.

Almost seven decades later, conservation and range management continues to play a crucial role in his grandsons’ management of The Beel Ranch. Their continuous improvements have allowed the land to be better utilized through their efficient rotational grazing system. Habitat for upland bird species, raptors and large game has increased at the same time.

“People on their own land who make commitments across the generations, as the Beel family is doing, are making decisions that benefit the land, wildlife and all of us,” said Brent Haglund, president, Sand County Foundation.

The Leopold Conservation Award is presented in honor of renowned conservationist and author Aldo Leopold, who called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage. Award applicants are judged based on their demonstration of improved resource conditions, innovation, long-term commitment to stewardship, sustained economic viability, community and civic leadership, and multiple use benefits.

The $10,000 award, and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold, will be presented to the Beels at NC’s Annual Convention in December.

“This is a prestigious award given to a Nebraska livestock producer for their commitment to the care and preservation of the land,” said Dale Spencer, NC president. “Nebraska Cattlemen are proud to support these conservation-minded individuals as it is our responsibility to protect and preserve the land for future generations.”

“On behalf of Cargill’s customers and employees, we are proud to recognize The Beel Ranch for conservation that increases the sustainability of animal agriculture in the U.S.,” stated Jarrod Gillig, vice president and general manager at Cargill’s Schuyler, NE, beef processing plant. “Through effective land management that includes livestock grazing and preservation of wildlife habitats, The Beel Ranch is a shining example of best practices for cattle and beef production.”

The Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska is possible thanks to generous contributions from many organizations, including: Cargill, Farm Credit Services of America, Natural Resources Conservation Service, NC Research & Education Foundation, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, Nebraska Land Trust, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Sandhills Task Force, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund. — WLJ