Hoeme Family Farm and Ranch of Scott City has been named the winner of the 2018 Kansas Leopold Conservation Award. Presented November 19 during the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts (KACD) Convention in Wichita, the $10,000 award recognizes landowner achievement in the field of voluntary conservation.
For more than 40 years, the Hoeme family has adopted conservation practices that have enhanced profitability, soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat. Stacy Hoeme and his son, Caston, farm and ranch about 9,000 acres along the Smoky Hill River and another 10,000 in Scott County. Limited tillage and crop rotation practices have helped the family improve soil health and manage water usage. They developed a cattle grazing program that recognizes the prairie requires grazing and rest periods to maintain natural productivity. The Hoemes were among the first ranchers in western Kansas to protect water quality by fencing off ponds and using solar power to pump water to livestock. The diverse collection of plants in the Hoeme pastures supports some of the largest known populations and densities of the lesser prairie chicken in the bird’s natural range. They manage food plots for deer, pheasant, bobwhite quail and migrating song birds.
Land owned by the Hoemes was the focal point of the largest study ever conducted on lesser prairie chickens, clearly illustrating the family’s support for research on the bird. They also participated in a large research project on the long-term decline in mule deer numbers. Insights gained from these studies has influenced how government, conservation partners and other landowners manage the landscape for wildlife.
Other finalists for this year’s award were Alexander Ranch of Sun City and the Z Bar Ranch in Lake City. The award was presented by the Sand County Foundation, Ranchland Trust of Kansas and KACD. In addition to the $10,000, the Hoemes received a crystal depicting renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold.