Agriculture, Climate, Environment

Stemple Creek Ranch Honored as Leopold Conservation Award Finalist

December 15, 2021

Loren and Lisa Poncia’s Stemple Creek Ranch, near Tomales, was among just three finalists considered this year for the prestigious California Leopold Conservation Award, an honor that recognizes conservation leaders among the state’s farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners. In California, the prestigious award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, American Farmland Trust, Sustainable Conservation and the California Farm Bureau Federation.

The award was presented this week at the California Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting to another stellar contender, the Witcher Creek Ranch of Modoc County, but Stemple Creek’s finalist status ensures that the Poncias likely will continue to inspire other ranchers to tackle such conservation activities as:

Starting in 2014, the Poncias worked with the Marin Carbon Project to improve soil on the Ranch, where all their livestock is pasture-raised. Long before that, the Poncias had been working to implement regenerative, carbon posibitive practices, believing that healthy soil, achieved in part by spreading organic compost on pastureland to help sequester the carbon in the soil, is a key to their ability to grass-feed and grass-finish their herd.

“This beneficial practice helps retain moisture and nutrients that improve the growth of our natural forage. Our livestock support the process by leaving natural fertilizer behind while grazing in the fields,” the couple explains on their website.

The Poncia family has a long history of conservation – Loren’s father Al, who was a founding board member of MALT, received the NRCS Excellence in Conservation Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2002. This is the highest award given by the Natural Resources Conservation Service to honor those outside the Federal government for their work in conservation.

Not only is Stemple Creek a Marin Carbon Project demonstration farm, it’s also a destination for soil scientists from around the world to observe new ways to improve and refine sequestration efforts. Stemple Creek Ranch’s more than 1,000 acres are protected through a MALT agricultural conservation easement, ensuring that the property will remain a productive part of the Marin County agricultural landscape forever.