A former director of the Southwest Colorado Livestock Association received the Stockman of the Year award at their annual banquet Saturday night.
Al Heaton, of Dolores, is known as a man “who can do anything with nothing,” according to Lynelle Brumley, the livestock association’s treasurer. In addition to his ability to fix truck engines with a pair of pliers, he is also known among Colorado ranchers for his work with the Dolores Water Conservancy during the construction of McPhee Reservoir and his ongoing efforts to educate the public about land and wildlife issues. He has served as the association’s director, and he currently works on his family’s ranch near Dolores.
Saturday wasn’t the first time Heaton had received a Southwest Colorado Livestock Association award. He received an award for distinguished service in 2012, when leaders of the association praised his work on the Bureau of Land Management Advisory Council. He has also served on the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association Public Lands Council, the Federal Lands Committee and the Montezuma County Stewardship Committee.
“He is fair and open-minded, dedicated to creating good working relationships among all parties, striving to resolve issues for the benefit and best interest of all involved,” Brumley wrote of Heaton.
Despite his current position on the livestock association’s board of directors as the voting secretary, Heaton said the other members kept him in the dark about who would be named Stockman of the Year in 2017. He became visibly emotional as he accepted the award alongside his wife, LaVonne.
“I’ve always appreciated and enjoyed working with our industry ... and protecting our way of life and trying to educate others,” he said. “All I can say is, Thank you.”