Three local ranching families took a break from their work on the range so they could be honored for their commitment to agriculture earlier this month.
The Heritage Family Awards were given to families whose ancestors built the homes, schools and civic organizations that helped form the communities in Routt County at the turn of the 20th century. The families honored were the Beltons in North Routt, the Frentress family in West Routt and the Rossi family in South Routt.
"They are all shining examples of leaders in the Yampa Valley -- not only today, but also in the past," said Community Agriculture Alliance director Marsha Daughenbaugh.
The families have chosen to remain in Routt County, continue in agriculture and hang on to their family values, despite temptations to sell their land and move on to doing something easier or more lucrative, she said.
The Frentress family members were recognized for their innovative farming and ranching practices at their ranch west of Hayden. Wheat and hay is produced on the land, in addition to their cow-calf operation and big game hunting. The ranch contains a conservation easement that was put in place in 2004 to protect the sharp-tail grouse.
"We love to see our wildlife and like to see the working landscape," said Vonnie Frentress. "We're proud to be one of Routt County's award winners."
From North Routt, the Beltons have six generations of family who have helped work the land. Matt, Christy and their son Tell recently moved to the historical Warren Ranch in the Elk River Valley to headquarter their ranching operation.
"Ranching is kind of a dying thing around here, so it's kind of nice to be recognized," Matt Belton said.
The Rossis were honored for their dedication to preserving agricultural lands for future generations and for being leaders in the conservation easement efforts. The have a cow-calf and yearling operation on the ranch and produce and harvest mountain hay, which is fed to their livestock and sold to markets on the Front Range, Japan and Ireland.
"It's a great honor mainly because the ranch is owned and operated by the family," Tommy Rossi said. "All the work is done by the family, and it's good to see the work pay off.