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Nebraska conservation award goes to Switzer family of Loup County
Leopold Award

Nebraska conservation award goes to Switzer family of Loup County

LINCOLN — The Switzer family of Loup County joined Gov. Pete Ricketts Wednesday for an announcement that they won this year’s Leopold Conservation Award.

Five generations of the family have been involved with their Sand Hills ranch, according to the Sand County Foundation, which sponsors the award. Current family members include Bruce and Sue Ann Switzer; their children, Sarah Sortum and Adam Switzer; and five grandchildren.

In addition to custom grazing beef cattle on 12,000 acres of native prairie, the Switzer family operates a nature-based tourism business. Calamus Outfitters provides lodging, event space, river float trips and eco-tours of the area.

The family has used actively managed grazing and controlled burns to maintain the health of their land. In particular, they have focused on changes to help the survival of the greater prairie-chicken and the sharp-tailed grouse, two native birds that have suffered from the loss of habitat.

Their efforts led to an uptick in bird watchers visiting the ranch, including for a springtime Prairie Chicken Festival, and the designation by Audubon Nebraska as an important bird area.

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Martha Stoddard keeps legislators honest from The World-Herald's Lincoln bureau, where she covers news from the State Capitol. Follow her on Twitter @StoddardOWH. Phone: 402-670-2402

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