The Beel Ranch on the Cherry-Brown county line received the 2013 Leopold Conservation Award which recognizes Nebraska private land stewardship and management of natural resources.
The Nebraska Cattlemen, the Wisconsin-based Sand County Foundation and Cargill are the primary sponsor of this award in Nebraska.
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 both of whom instilled in them the importance of treating the land with care, said Frank Beel during a press conference at the Nebraska Capitol Building.
On the ranch today, Frank says the extended family makes 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 of the 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.