2017 Leopold Award Celebrates Ranching And Conservation Back »

2017 S.D. Leopold Conservation Award Winner:
Blue Bell Ranch - Clear Lake, SD

On April 21, Governor Daugaard announced the Blue Bell Ranch near Clear Lake, SD as the 2017 winner of the South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award. The Blue Bell is owned and operated by Herb and Beverly Hamann and their two children Arlo and Breck. The Hamanns are the 8th family to receive this prestigious award since its 2010 inception in South Dakota. The Hamann’s story is impressive and centers around the balance of operating a working cattle ranch while respecting the integrity of the grassland system so vital to the ranch’s sustainability and profitability.

About the Award
The South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award recognizes landowners that are committed to perpetuating a land ethic. The award program is administered by the Sand County Foundation and is sponsored and presented annually by the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association at their annual banquet. The award, which consists of $10,000 and a Leopold crystal also includes a video production of the winning operation and host tour.

Introduced in South Dakota in 2010, the Leopold Conservation Award has been one by a beef-producing family for the 8th consecutive year, and the Hamanns now join a unique group of winners committed to conservation in their agricultural operations.

About Blue Bell Ranch
The Blue Bell Ranch dates back to the late 1800’s, and has been in the Gabriel and Hamann families since the 1950’s. During that time, the ranch has been a working cattle ranch and has grown in both land and cattle to its present state under the ownership and direction of Herb and Bev, who value the simple natural integrity of the ranch, a trait they have passed down to the next generation. Herb Hamann was the 1983 winner of the SD Rangeman of the Year Award sponsored by the South Dakota Chapter of the Society For Range Management, and 35 years later the same group (in partnership with SDSU Extension, the Nature Conservancy, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service) nominated the Hamanns for the Leopold Award.

From the rolling upland prairies to the creeks, fens, and springs found on the ranch, the Hamann’s believe that working with natural systems is much more efficient that working against them. To that end, they’ve made management decisions, such as later calving, to better match their operation with natural cycles. In addition, their approach to implementing conservation is relatively unconscious, given that the right thing to do for profitability is often the right thing to do for ecology as well.

2017 Leopold Conservation Award Tour Information

The Hamanns will be hosting a ranch tour in conjunction with the Leopold Award on Tuesday, Aug 1 at the ranch pasture located approximately 5 miles east of City of Clear Lake on Hwy 22. Join the family and their partners for the tour as they discuss ranch management, water systems, alternative weed control, partnerships, conservation easements, and other topics. See below for tour details.

  • Date: Tuesday, August 1, 2017
  • Directions: From Clear Lake, 5 miles East on Hwy 22 to large tent in pasture.
  • RSVP: Judge Jessop  605.280.0127


  • 9:30am - Registration, Coffee & Rolls
  • 10:00am - Welcome, award, & Hamann Presentation
  • 10:30am - The Blue Bell Ranch and the Prairie Coteau – Pete Bauman, SDSU Extension
  • 11:15am - Rainfall Simulator – Stan Boltz, NRCS
  • 12:00pm - Complimentary Lunch
  • 1:00pm - Ranch Tour: grazing management, fens, springs, prairie, native American site
  • 4:00pm - SDSU Ice Cream

More Information:

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