Rancho Largo receives Leopold Conservation Award
June 1, 2017
Tri-State is among the proud sponsors of the 2017 Leopold Conservation Award, named for conservationist and writer Aldo Leopold, recognizing the “ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.” This year’s award goes to Grady Grissom, co-owner of Rancho Largo in Fowler, Colorado.
"Tri-State and its member electric cooperatives are proud to support the Leopold Conservation Award," said Mike McInnes, chief executive officer of Tri-State. "The environmental stewardship recognized with the award reflects the strong conservation ethic of rural communities and their electric cooperatives."
Rancho Largo is a cow/calf operation that under Grady’s management emphasizes adaptive, or strategic, grazing. Adaptive grazing principles include setting grazing periods, implementing rest periods, introducing plant diversity as well as monitoring forage to shorten the amount of grazing impact on the land. Grady, who was a wrestler at Princeton University, went on to receive his PhD in metamorphic petrology and now applies his analytic nature to his ranching operation. Grady explains that his approach is due to the “nerd hiding inside of me.”
A plant needs a full growing season to recover from defoliation, so to move the land toward ecological health, Grady studied different plant species’ seasonality and recovery time, and examined where cattle could fit into the process and avoid damage. Monitoring results is a key piece of the vast puzzle and influences future planting and grazing cycles as he studies plant height, leaf height and seeding percentage. When a plant goes to seed, he knows it’s fully recovered.
Grady lives at Rancho Largo with his wife Lynda, where he is fulfilling a lifelong goal. Ranching runs in the family and made an impact on Grady as a boy growing up in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. His mother was raised on a ranch in Wray, Colorado, where he visited often. “When I was 10 years old, I knew I wanted to be a rancher.”
Asked to describe himself, Grady says with a smile, “I’m the luckiest guy in this world. It’s a pretty good gig.”
With Tri-State’s interest in supporting the rural West, the organization annually joins the Sand County Foundation, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust and American AgCredit in presenting the Leopold Conservation Award. Grady will be honored at the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association annual convention in Grand Junction, Colorado, on June 12.”