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State Land Board recognizes Freeman Family Business with statewide legacy award


Russell Freeman of Freeman Family Business received the Legacy Award from the Colorado State Land Board at the agency’s annual awards ceremony in Denver.  

Freeman’s family has held a lease on a 640-acre section of trust land for more than 80 years spanning three generations of ranchers in their family. Last year they voluntarily assigned their lease to a younger, local ranching family who will carry forward their legacy of good land stewardship.

Typically, agricultural leases on state trust land are 10 years in length. When a rancher holds an agricultural lease and they don’t want it anymore, they have the option to either terminate their lease or assign it to another party. An assignment is when a lessee turns over the remainder of the lease contract to another party. The State Land Board will then evaluate that party to make sure they would be a good partner to the land board and good stewards of the land.

“I am optimistic that the new lessee will uphold Mr. Freeman’s strong stewardship values, and the new lessee’s have expressed gratitude and enthusiasm for the chance to hold a state lease,” said Mariah Pillmore, South Central District Manager for the State Land Board.

In the spirit of encouraging and fostering the next generation of agriculture leaders in the state of Colorado, this award recognizes a State Land Board lessee who has assigned their lease to a non-familial younger lessee (a lessee 40-years-old or younger).

There were three additional awards:

  • Buffy Lenth for her work with Central Colorado Conservancy won the Outstanding Partnership award for their work at the Badger Creek watershed in Park and Fremont Counties.
  • Beth LaShell at the Old Fort at Ft. Lewis College won the Bloom Stewardship award. 
  • Nextera Energy Resources won the Lessee of the Year award.  They have sites all around the state.