Leopold Award honors California brothers for conservation

romingers

Three generations of Romingers — photo courtesy Sand County Foundation

Rominger Brothers Farms of Winters, California, received the 2019 California Leopold Conservation Award during a ceremony at the California Farm Bureau’s recent annual meeting in Monterey.

Sand County Foundation created the Leopold award to inspire American landowners by recognizing exceptional farmers, ranchers and foresters. Named in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, it is given in 20 states.

The award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, Sustainable Conservation and the California Farm Bureau Federation. Rominger Brothers Farms Inc. of Yolo County received $10,000 and a crystal award.

Owners Bruce and Rick Rominger grow diversified crops, including rice, hay, winegrapes and processing tomatoes.

The family has long been recognized as leaders for their adaptability and innovation while overcoming regulatory challenges that, together with their conservation goals, enhance their business.

This includes planting miles of hedgerows to benefit important pollinators like bees, restoring over 5,000 feet of stream corridors to connect riparian areas and wetlands to aid a variety of species, and managing irrigation water on their rice fields to boost declining shorebird populations.

“It’s an honor to even be considered for the Leopold Conservation Award, and an even greater honor to win it, especially considering all the accomplished past winners,” Bruce Rominger said. “We are humbled to be part of that list of distinguished recipients. We love what we’re doing and believe what we’re doing improves our part of California in meaningful ways for the future. To have the Leopold Conservation Award associated with our farm is a tremendous privilege.”

“The Rominger brothers have spent three decades evolving their farm into a model of sustainability and climate resiliency,”  said Ashley Boren, executive director of Sustainable Conservation, which has co-sponsored the award since its California launch in 2006. “Their extraordinary list of accomplishments includes pioneering the use of water-wise drip irrigation, planting miles of hedgerows to benefit important pollinators, and restoring and reconnecting streams and wetland habitats – all of which helps their farm and the multitude of species that call it home endure in a changing climate.”

Among the landowners nominated for this year’s award were two finalists. Philip Verwey Dairy, Hanford, and Burroughs Family Farms, Denair.

The 2018 recipient was Lundberg Family Farms, an organic rice and quinoa farm in Butte and Humboldt counties.

Sand County Foundation contributed information for this article.