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First-Ever California Award Recognizes Farmer and Rancher Conservation Practices

Anaheim, Calif., December 4, 2006 – Brad and Randy Lange, winners of the first-ever Leopold Conservation Award in California, demonstrate the power of farmers and ranchers to sustain a healthy environment and healthy businesses. Sand County Foundation, in partnership with Sustainable Conservation and the California Farm Bureau Federation, presented the $10,000 award to Lange Twins Wine Estates of San Joaquin County, California, as well as finalist awards to the Rickert Family (Prather Ranch, Shasta County) and Jack Varian (V6 Ranch, Monterey County). The Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation, given in honor of Aldo Leopold.

"Sand County Foundation is pleased to partner with Sustainable Conservation and the California Farm Bureau Federation to present the Leopold Conservation Award to Brad and Randy Lange," said Dr. Brent Haglund, President of Sand County Foundation. "They are fine examples of new leadership in modern conservation."

Brad Lange, co-owner of the Lange Twins Wine Estates, said, "The environmental stewardship frame of mind allows us to think outside the box to find creative solutions that can be mutually beneficial to our ecosystem and to our bottom line...not to mention the priceless benefit of conserving the environment for future farming generations."

"The Langes and all of the Leopold Conservation Award nominees demonstrate that California farmers and ranchers play a crucial role in protecting the health of the environment and providing habitat for wildlife," said Ashley Boren, Executive Director of Sustainable Conservation. "With more than half of California land in private hands, their work is a win for wildlife, humans and the economy."

Farming nearly 6,500 acres of vineyards along the Mokelumne River near Lodi, California, the Lange brothers combine economic success with sustained conservation. Their practices include: using natural predators to combat pests; using sprayers that reduce chemical use by 50 percent and water use ten-fold; and installing solar power for their vineyard operations and farmhouse.

Doug Mosebar, President of California Farm Bureau Federation, said, "The Leopold Conservation Award is a wonderful way to honor California farmers and ranchers and their understanding of the land. The winners are outstanding examples of the work that goes on every day on farms and ranches throughout California."

The Leopold Conservation Award is currently given in six states: California, Colorado, Texas, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Wyoming. It will be presented annually in California by Sand County Foundation, Sustainable Conservation and California Farm Bureau Federation. The 2006 California award is co-sponsored by Capital Press, California's Agriculture Weekly.

Sand County Foundation is a private, non-profit conservation group dedicated to working with private landowners to improve habitat on their land. In the spirit of Aldo Leopold, author of A Sand County Almanac, the foundation encourages the exercise of private responsibility in the pursuit of improved land health.

The California Farm Bureau Federation (Farm Bureau) is California's largest farm organization, comprised of 53 county Farm Bureaus representing nearly 92,000 members throughout California, including farm families and those who support the farming way of life.

More about the 2006 finalists