Sproul Family Receives 2015 Kansas Leopold Conservation Award

Sproul Family Receives 2015 Kansas Leopold Conservation Award
Sproul Family Receives 2015 Kansas Leopold Conservation Award
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT)
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT)

Wichita, KS -(AmmoLand.com)- Bill Sproul and his family, who operate a 2,200-acre stocker ranch in Chautauqua County, received the first Kansas Leopold Conservation Award in November.

The award honors Kansas landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources, and was presented by the Sand County Foundation in partnership with the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts (KACD) and the Ranchland Trust of Kansas (RTK).

When the Sprouls purchased their land, it had a long history of being overgrazed and was rapidly transforming into woodland. After removing the invasive woody plants, they transformed the land back into native tallgrass prairie and implemented a patch-burn grazing program. While the cattle graze the burned areas, the unburned grass accumulates, providing habitat for wildlife and fuel for future burns.

Sproul always considers the long-term consequences of his decisions on prairie health. When drought reduced forage production, he reduced stocking rates to help the land recover, even if it meant deferring grazing altogether on some rangeland.

When asked about his approach to conservation, Sproul said, “I let the prairie dictate what I do.”

Over the past eight years, Sproul has worked with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) to conduct annual breeding bird surveys on his ranch. He has also worked with Kansas State University to perform studies on the effects of patch-burn grazing on pollinator populations.

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, was presented to the Sproul family at the KACD annual convention in Wichita on November 23.

“The Sproul ranch is an outstanding example of conservation and truly exemplifies Aldo Leopold’s land ethic,” said Jim Krueger, KACD Executive Director. “Their careful stewardship of the land will help ensure their unique landscape is preserved for generations to come. As the first recipients of the Kansas Leopold Conservation Award, the Sprouls have set the bar high going forward.”

“The Ranchland Trust of Kansas is proud that one of our charter members was chosen as the first Kansas recipient of the Leopold Conservation Award,” said Bill Eastman, RTK Chair of the Board. “We know first-hand the conservation and stewardship of the Sproul family. It is a great pleasure to see their efforts and leadership being recognized with an award that epitomizes the conservation movement in America.”

The Leopold Conservation Award Program in Kansas is made possible thanks to the generous support of Clean Line Energy Partners, Ducks Unlimited, ITC Great Plains, NextEra Energy Resources, Westar Energy, KDWPT, DuPont Pioneer, The Mosaic Company and The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

About the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism:

As a public steward of the Kansas natural resources, the mission of the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is to: Conserve and enhance Kansas natural heritage, its wildlife and its habitats–to assure future generations the benefits of the state’s diverse, living resources; Provide the public with opportunities for the use and appreciation of the natural resources of Kansas, consistent with the conservation of those resources; Inform the public of the status of the natural resources of Kansas to promote understanding and gain assistance in achieving this mission.

For more information on KDWPT, please visit www.kdwpt.state.ks.us.