This year's Utah Leopold Award finalists include three top agricultural businesses:
•W.F. Goring & Son, Inc., Deweyville
•H.A. Farms, Inc., Parowan
•Johnson Mountain Ranch, Aurora
The annual prize, bestowed by the Sand County Foundation in partnership with the Utah Farm Bureau Federation, Western AgCredit and the Utah Cattlemen's Association, honors landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.
It is given in many western states in memory of Aldo Leopold, well known for his conservation farming achievements. The prize brings $10,000 to the top winner of the three, who will be named during the Utah Farm Bureau Federation's annual convention on Nov. 22. Each of the finalists will be recognized at the event, which also gives the winner a crystal trophy.
William "Junior" Goring and his son, Blake, run W.F. Goring, a sheep ranch in Box Elder County.
H.A. Farms is a sheep and cattle ranch in Iron County, operated by state Sen. Dennis Stowell until he passed in 2011, with the family business continuing today.
Stuart Johnson and his son, Jared, along with their families, own Johnson Mountain Ranch, a cow-calf operation in Sevier Co.
Aldo Leopold is given in hope it inspires other landowners through examples set by those nominated for the prize, providing a visible forum where farmers, ranchers and other private landowners will improve their conservation management.
In a 1949 book by Leopold "A Sand County Almanac," the late rancher calls for an ethical relationship between people and he land they own or manage, which he labeled "an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity."
"These agricultural operations are remarkable because they all share a commitment to wise use of Utah's natural resources," Leland Hogan, bureau president, says of the recipients and nominees.
"These finalists are examples of determination, innovation and dedication that characterize agricultural families across Utah."