California Cattle Operation Wins National Environmental AwardContacts:
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – Leavitt Lake Ranches of Vina, Calif., was named the 2009 National Environmental Stewardship Award winner. Nominated for the award by the California Cattlemen's Association (CCA) and the California Rangeland Trust (Rangeland Trust), the operation was honored Friday, Jan. 29, at the 2010 Cattle Industry Annual Convention for making environmental stewardship a priority while improving production and profitability.
Leavitt Lake Ranches is owned and operated by Darrell Wood, his wife Callie, son Ramsey and daughter Dallice. It has family ranching ties dating back to the 1860s. Working in segments of agriculture and without any cattle or land when they wed in 1981, Darrell and Callie had a vision to restore ranches that had been owned by Darrell’s family. They began to acquire ranches and cattle, leasing property and gradually buying the former family property.
Today, they own about 3,670 acres of private land, manage 25,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management permits and lease another 11,000 acres between the winter range annual grasslands of the Vina Plains and the summer range on high elevation meadows of Lassen County. They run 600 mother cows and 400 yearlings and farm 600 acres of alfalfa and 900 acres of irrigated pasture. The cattle herd is made up of spring and fall calving herds of registered and commercial Angus cattle.
The Wood family has implemented a number of practices aimed at protecting and improving the land upon which they make a living. A few of these include working in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy on a restoration plan for the Vina Plains vernal pools project; providing habitat for an abundance of wildlife; improving irrigation systems; constructing cross-fencing; installing livestock water developments; decreasing stream bank erosion; and improving riparian conditions.
According to CCA President Tom Talbot, DVM, CCA nominated the Wood family because of their ongoing commitment for improving their land and ensuring their family ranching traditions can continue for future generations.
"The Wood family is very deserving of this honor. They are a great example of true stewardship and are very proactive in working with multiple state and federal agencies to make sure they meet their business goals while keeping mother nature’s best interest in mind," Talbot said.
Nita Vail, executive director for the Rangeland Trust said, "Darrell's leadership as a founding Rangeland Trust board member and past chair has kept our organization moving forward and on the cutting edge. The Wood Family is known not only for their top-quality beef operation, but for what they do for the environment as well. I am so proud of what their family has achieved and for what they exemplify as conservationists and ranchers."
"Stewardship is just like values that you learn from your parents or your grandparents, and it is passed down," Callie Wood said. "Our children look at what we've done, and to them that's what should be done. We've always just had a love of the land."
"I take quite a bit of pride in knowing that this ranch is going to (thrive) in perpetuity, not only for my kids and their kids but for future generations down the line," Darrell Wood said. "I feel very good about that."
"The Woods are an outstanding example of conservation stewardship and leadership," said Lincoln E. Burton, state conservationist for USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service in California. "They are exceptional not only for their whole-farm approach and the number of conservation practices they have implemented, but also for the numerous partnerships they've built with conservation agencies and organizations."
Burton noted that the family has worked with the conservation agency for almost two decades, collaborating in conservation planning, technical services, and a wide array of Farm Bill conservation programs.
In addition to working closely with CCA and the Rangeland Trust, the Woods have partnered with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program; Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program; Wetlands Restoration Program; Grasslands Reserve Program; Nutritional Balance Analyzer Program and Texas A & M University. They also have working relationships with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Partners for Wildlife Program; The Nature Conservancy; Deer Creek Watershed Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited.
Leavitt Lake Ranches represented National Cattlemen's Beef Association Region VI in the 2009 Environmental Stewardship Award Program. This is the third time a California ranching family has won the award in the past 10 years and the fourth year Californians have won regional honors in the last decade.
Founded in 1917, the California Cattlemen's Association (CCA) represents California's 1.76 billion- dollar beef cattle industry on legislative and regulatory affairs and remains the number one voice for the industry today. CCA is an affiliate of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which represents America's cattle farmers and ranchers.
The California Rangeland Trust, a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation, was created to conserve the open space, natural habitat and stewardship provided by California's ranches. To date, the Trust has protected over 183,000 acres of productive grazing lands across the State through the use of conservation easements.
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