(Editor’s Note: The article was updated to reflect the correct organization that announced the award.)

QUAY COUNTY, N.M. (KAMR/KCIT) — The Sand County Foundation recently announced that Tom and Mimi Sidwell are set to receive the New Mexico Leopold Conservation Award on Friday which is a $10,000 award given to ranchers, farmers, and forestland owners who work hard to manage soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat on working land.

Officials detailed that the award will be formally presented to the Sidwells, who own and operate JX Ranch in Quay County, at the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau’s annual meeting on Friday.

The New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, Quivira Coalition, New Mexico Coalition to Enhance Working Lands and New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau present the award in New Mexico along with Sand County Foundation and American Farmland Trust who present the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 27 states, according to officials.

Officials added that the award is given in honor of Aldo Leopold, a renowned conservationist, who in his 1949 book “A Sand County Almanac” called for “a land ethic,” which is an ethical relationship between people and the land that they own and manage.

Officials detailed that earlier in the year New Mexico landowners were encouraged to apply or nominate someone for the award. Applications were then reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders.

Finalists for the award included Lanford Livestock of Truth or Consequences in Sierra County and Philmont Scout Ranch of Cimarron in Colfax County. Last year, the late Sid Goodlow, who owned Carrizo Valley Ranch, was the award recipient, officials noted.

The Sidwells were described in a news release as individuals who understood how to manage land differently through rotational grazing practices and cutting their acres of grass to feed a cow from 58 acres to 27 acres on their ranch.

Officials described that the Sidewells further installed fencing and water distribution to create 30 pastures after bulldozing mesquite trees, created a resilient ecosystem through the rotational grazing process, which is able to better retain moisture during drought periods, and continue to assess the forage each fall to help them rate pasture production and estimate the next year’s stocking rate.

A release from officials read that Tom has “dedicated his life to improving the health of the land and has served in numerous civic and governmental roles.” He often shares his financial and conservation knowledge with other ranchers.

“Tom and Mimi are a great representation of a strong conservation ethos among the New Mexico cattle growers community,” said Sarah Wentzel-Fisher, Quivira Coalition Executive Director. “The way they care for their cattle, while also caring for the land, sets the exemplary example of our community. They are wholly deserving of this award.”

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