MT7 Ranch receives Texas Leopold Conservation Award

The MT7 Ranch and owners Mike and Mary Terry are this year’s recipients of the state’s highest honor for private land conservation, the Leopold Conservation Award. (Courtesy Photo)

AUSTIN Mike and Mary Terry, owners of the MT7 Ranch near Breckenridge, are this year’s recipients of the state’s highest honor for private land conservation, the Leopold Conservation Award.

The prestigious award, given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation and natural resource management by American ranchers, farmers and foresters in 27 states.

In Texas, the award is made possible by the generous contributions from American Farmland Trust, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Lee and Ramona Bass, Dixon Water Foundation, Sand County Foundation and McDonald’s.

“The MT7 Ranch and its owners, Mary and Mike Terry, exemplify everything we look for when selecting a winner for this prestigious award,” Kevin Mote, Private Lands and Public Hunting Director for TPWD, said in a news release. “The Terrys and ranch staff are not only dedicated to being great land stewards inside the MT7 fences but have been excellent ambassadors for wildlife habitat conservation to other landowners, as well as great partners to TPWD over the years. Their willingness to implement new management practices, learn from their successes and failures, and share that knowledge with other like-minded conservationists are all qualities we are proud to recognize and honor.”

Longtime ranch manager Ty Bartoskewitz oversees MT7 Ranch’s approach to land stewardship, employing a variety of habitat, grazing, crop, water retention and wildlife population management practices.

Perhaps most notable has been the creation and maintenance of 55 quail management areas scattered across the ranch. They range in size from 10 to 100 acres and are situated within riparian corridors and ridges where mesquite and other shrubs could not be easily cleared in the past. Each area provides quail with cover and food sources of seeds and insects from a patchwork of disked strips planted annually with a mix of grains and forbs that mature at different times of the year, the release said.

Whereas some landowners fear opening their land to others, the Terrys have taken the opposite approach. They use their ranch as an outdoor classroom for other ranchers, local school and civic groups, state and federal conservation agencies and nonprofits, and graduate students conducting research.

The Terrys will be presented with a crystal trophy, a gate sign and a $10,000 cash award provided by the Sand County Foundation at the Lone Star Steward Awards banquet later this month.

The Leopold Conservation Award Program is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont).