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Native Tree Stewardship Award

The Native Tree Stewardship Award recognizes those who best exemplify the Native Tree Committee’s objectives, i.e., voluntary conservation through education, propagation, and stewardship. An individual or organization may nominate a group or individual each year. From this pool of nominees, a council selected by the NTC names a Steward of the Year - an individual or group who has demonstrated outstanding and innovative natural resource management while making significant contributions to the conservation of native woodlands in the County. The annual award is presented at Cattlemen and Farmers’ Day during the California Mid-State Fair.

Congratulations to Karl & Sue Luft, the 2010 Award recipients!

The NTC proudly presented Karl & Sue Luft (Luft Vineyard) with the 2010 Native Tree Stewardship Award on July 22nd, 2010, at Cattlemen and Farmers' Day during the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles.

Sue & Karl Luft were chosen for the award as great examples and leaders in sustainable agriculture and native tree protection.  Their property is east of Templeton and has four acres of zinfandel winegrapes, a straw-bale home powered by solar panels, a streambed with native oak woodland, and open land.  Not only are the Lufts highly involved with organizations like Central Coast Vineyard Team, the Native Tree Committee, the Land Conservancy of SLO County, and the Upper Salinas – Las Tablas Resource Conservation District, but they are intricately connected to their land and have a heightened awareness of ecological processes taking place.

Since Karl and Sue are both retired engineers, they integrate science and technology into their vineyard practices.  Their vineyard has been certified sustainable by Sustainability in Practice (SIP)™ (, a vineyard and winemaker certification program developed by the Central Coast Vineyard Team (CCVT,

Oak seedlings were beginning to sprout up in their vineyard rows, where the vegetation is mowed or sprayed to reduce the competition for water.  With this practice, the oak seedlings are mowed as well.  Karl & Sue committed to transplanting the seedlings to areas where they would not be disturbed.  However, they wanted to do more and so embarked on a restoration project.

Hundreds of acorns were collected from their property and in January of 2007 they were planted at over 100 different planting sites on the Luft’s open land.   In June of 2010 they hosted an on-site ‘tailgate’ where they encouraged winegrape growers to incorporate oak plantings on their property.  Topics also covered at the tailgate included oak regeneration, wildlife corridors, oak ecological structure, and how native woodland can help with vineyard pest management.

Karl and Sue Luft are great examples to other growers and landowners.  Their stewardship, knowledge, and love for their land should be observed and commended.

The SLO County Board of Supervisors offered their commendation to the Lufts during their meeting on Aug 10th, 2010.  The BOS meeting video is posted online and may be viewed at  (video counter ~43:30-48:27 just after the REPORT ON CLOSED SESSION).


*** Annual Call for Nominees ***
Each nominee should be actively involved in the maintenance and enhancement of natural resources, including native tree regeneration and woodland habitat.  Nomination Application Forms must be submitted to the Native Tree Committee of San Luis Obispo County before June 11th of the award year.  The nomination form may be found on our newsletter page here.
Past Stewardship Award Recipients:
  • Jack Varian
  • Bill Hartzell
  • Jim & Steve Sinton
  • Cuesta Ridge Vineyard (Mondavi Vineyard)
  • Dick Montague
  • Mike Bonnheim
  • Aaron Lazanoff
  • Eleanor Truocchio
  • Roy Parsons

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