2019 SCCA Winners Have Been Announced!

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Conservation Awards Honor Outstanding Achievements

Palmer Land Trust recently announced the winners of the 10th Annual Southern Colorado Conservation Awards, created to honor significant achievements that advance the well-being of Colorado’s communities, people, ecologies and economies.

Lyda Hill of Dallas, Texas, and Nancy Lewis, posthumously, of Colorado Springs, will be honored with the Stuart P. Dodge Award for Lifetime Achievement. Dr. Michael Bartolo of Rocky Ford will receive the Innovation in Conservation Award and Pete McBride of Basalt will receive the Champion of Colorado Award. Ranchlands, an organization based in Colorado Springs, will receive with the Environmental Stewardship Award.

The Stuart P. Dodge Award honors lifetime achievement in conservation, while the Innovation in Conservation pays tribute to an individual, group, project or program that has advanced the cause of conservation by developing new conservation models.

The Environmental Stewardship Award recognizes individuals and organizations that have positively impacted the land and the way members of our communities understand and respect their relationship to the land, and the Champion for Colorado Award celebrates an individual whose work demonstrates a profound commitment to the conservation and stewardship of Colorado's spectacular landscapes and invaluable natural resources.

For decades Nancy Lewis and Lyda Hill worked together in the Pikes Peak region, consistently supporting local and statewide conservation efforts.

Until her death last year, Lewis resided in Colorado Springs for 60 years and became the first female director of the Colorado Springs Parks Department in 1987. She also served as president and trustee of the Garden of the Gods Foundation and authored a book titled “The Parks of Colorado Springs: Building Community, Preserving a Legacy.” Lewis dedicated her life to conservation efforts – advocating for local parks and public lands as well as educating the community on the importance conservation values.

Since the 1940s, philanthropic entrepreneur Lyda Hill has spent every summer in Colorado Springs and remains keenly affected by the striking view of Pikes Peak towering above Garden of the Gods. Hill met Lewis in the ’80s, and the ensuing friendship and partnership drove conservation accomplishments throughout the state and beyond.

Through the Lyda Hill Foundation, this dynamic partnership provided important funding to multiple conservation organizations, including Trust for Public Land, Palmer Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Colorado Water Trust, Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Colorado Springs Parks and many others. Hill’s vision, foresight and generosity has provided the means to preserve, protect and support critical conservation efforts in Colorado and across the world.

Dr. Bartolo was selected to receive the Innovation in Conservation Award in recognition of his long-time leadership in agricultural research and in the Colorado agriculture community as a whole.

He serves as the director of the Colorado State University Arkansas Valley Research Center at Rocky Ford, where his work has produced new crop varieties, including the Mosco chile, and improvements to existing varieties. His work with irrigation practices has helped farmers conserve water, boost yields and reduce pesticide usage.

Dr. Bartolo has also provided outstanding leadership to various Colorado agricultural communities and groups. He helped establish the Rocky Ford Growers Association and the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Association, where he continues to serve as a board member. He also serves on various irrigation ditch boards and community service groups.

Pete McBride’s voice as a photographer, filmmaker, writer and river advocate has reached millions of people through his work on assignment with National Geographic, Smithsonian, Outside, Esquire and others.

By documenting the beauty of Colorado’s natural resources and the challenges they face, McBride has raised awareness of critical conservation issues. His films, published books and hundreds of lectures have inspired and championed strong conservation support from local, national and international audiences and readers, positively impacting “the land and the way members of our communities understand and respect their relationship to it.”

Originally from the Roaring Fork Valley, McBride has spent significant time documenting the beauty and challenges surrounding his “backyard river,” the Colorado. McBride understands that water conservation is crucial to land conservation, and his ability to make such a complicated issue fascinating through his film, photography and writing has informed and educated the public – work that has helped countless citizens be “forces for good.”

Finally, what better way to inspire passion for Western heritage and wildlife habitat than giving everyone from local families to German tourists the opportunity to witness pronghorn and cattle thriving on the open range? Ranchlands does just that.

Every year since the Phillips family began to care for the Chico Basin Ranch’s 87,000 acres of shortgrass prairie, thousands of local school children, bird watchers, photographers, interns and apprentices have crossed their cattle guard clueless about land stewardship. But when they leave, they’ve experienced firsthand the Ranchlands motto: “Working together to live with the land.”

Ranchlands specializes in the management of large-scale ranches with conservation-minded partners like the Colorado State Land Board (Chico Basin Ranch) and The Nature Conservancy (Medano-Zapata Ranch). Ranchlands’ positive impact on land and people in Colorado is unique, and their reach goes far beyond the state’s borders through the Ranchlands Concert Series, an annual art show and 70,000 followers on social media.

Ranchlands programs help to bridge the gap between urban and rural communities, but Ranchlands also cultivates future land stewards through internship and apprenticeship programs, empowering young people to get their hands dirty to preserve culture and promote conservation.

Additional information about the Southern Colorado Conservation Awards, including a link to purchase tickets to the awards ceremony or to become a sponsor, is at available at https://www.palmerlandtrust.org/2019-scca. The ceremony will take place Thursday, October 3rd, at The Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs.