SHERIDAN — Following the announcement that the Sheridan County-based Padlock Ranch had been recognized with the 2013 Leopold Conservation Award, dozens of well-wishers flooded the property Tuesday morning for an environmental stewardship tour of the 500,000-acre property that stretches from Dayton across the Montana border.
“These awards reinforce for all of us the reasons that Padlock exists,” Board Chairman Jim Scott told the large assembled crowd.
Owned by the Scott family since 1943 and operated by CEO Wayne Fahsholtz, the Padlock was honored with the $10,000 Leopold Conservation Award by the Sand County Foundation, Wyoming Stock Growers Association and Peabody Energy.
An area mainstay, the Padlock Ranch was founded by Homer and Mildred Scott with about 300 cows and 3,000 acres. In the time since then, it has grown to become a nationally recognized symbol of environmental stewardship.
The Padlock is currently in its fourth generation of Scott family ownership.
The ranch was selected for this year’s award due largely to its innovative range management plan which emphasizes the health of the natural environment.
“It shows that you can have a healthy and thriving business and still be (environmental stewards),” Chief Operating Officer Trey Patterson said.
Prior to the start of a comprehensive bus tour of the property, ranch officials addressed the packed house of guests Tuesday morning and thanked them for taking the time to support the ranch and its mission.
For his part, Jim Scott outlined several key values held closely by the Scott family and implemented into their management of the ranch.
Among them: Financial excellence, an emphasis on quality people, natural resource sustainability, community leadership and an understanding that the ranch serves as a sort of family emblem.
Several speakers touched on the legacy of Dan Scott, a member of the Scott family and longtime lover of the ranch who died in a helicopter accident earlier this year.
“He was a true hero here at the ranch,” Fahsholtz said. “We’re thinking of him today as we celebrate.”
All three members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation wrote letters of congratulations to the Scott family on the award. Additionally, Gov. Matt Mead proclaimed the day Environmental Stewardship Day in honor of the Padlock’s recognition.
Ranch representatives and members of several regional agricultural organizations went on to praise the Scott family, Fahsholtz and Padlock staff members for their contributions to the organization’s continued success.
In his speech to the crowd Tuesday morning, Patterson said the ranch’s range management program, while highly technical and innovative, depends heavily on support from the entire Padlock team.
“You have to be patient, and you have to be diligent but the biggest thing is you need good people,” he said.