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Two significant awards related to land conservation were given at our annual meeting in New York City last month - one presented by the MFHA, and one presented to us. The 2018 Hunting Habitat Conservation Award was given to Santa Ynez Valley Hounds (CA). Decades of strategic purchase and use of easements have allowed Santa Ynez Valley to protect several thousand contiguous acres outside Santa Barbara. Joint Masters Steve Lyons, Paul McEnroe, and Bonnie Hayden gave a presentation accompanied by spectacular images of hounds out in their country. They also explained how they communicate the value of this ongoing project to the community. For example, by inviting local children to experience a day in an historic, restored one-room schoolhouse on Lyons' ranch. The hunt received a trophy and $5,000 for earning this special recognition. Watch for a feature article about their success in the next issue of Covertside.

After giving the Hunting Habitat Conservation Award, the MFHA received the prestigious Anson W. Taylor, Jr. Award for Leadership in Land Conservation from the Equine Land Conservation Resource. The ELCR is a prominent national advocacy group for protection of open space for equestrian activities. ELCR President Ken Haddad, a foxhunter, presented the engraved silver plate and outlined how, through various initiatives, the MFHA has helped conserve over 1.5 million private acres and another 1.2 million public acres. “The Hunting Habitat Conservation Award epitomizes why ELCR is giving the Anson Taylor Award to the MFHA, a recognition that is long overdue,” he said.

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