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Conference To Address Sustainability Of Agriculture, Forestry, And Communities

Agricultural lands do more than produce crops – they help to raise families, provide wildlife habitat, create small-business opportunities and jobs, support rural economies, and provide natural beauty that draws visitors to Wisconsin.

Amid growing concern for the economy and environment, a conference has been organized to examine ways to conserve our natural resources and support our rural communities and economies. “Working Landscapes in the Midwest: Creating Sustainable Futures for Agriculture, Forestry, and Communities” will be held Nov. 8-9 at the Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan, Wisconsin.

The conference is motivated in part by the rapid expansion of urban areas into traditionally rural areas. Laurel Kieffer, who manages a sheep dairy and small farm in Strum, says, “Urban sprawl threatens our farms, but it also provides us with an opportunity to make people aware of all of the services our farms provide. When people realize the importance of the farm economy and rural landscape to our state, they become interested in finding ways to preserve agricultural land.”

Keynote speakers will include futurist David Zach, internationally known landscape architect Philip H. Lewis, Jr., and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. Featured presenters from Wisconsin include Kieffer and Bob Wills, who owns and operates Cedar Grove Cheese in Plain.

The conference will feature success stories and practical tools for landscape management. Some of the featured tools will include citizen-based planning; environmental management; planning, assessing, and monitoring techniques for community change; strategies for influencing policies and programs; development of new products and markets; and technical and financial assistance opportunities.

To register for this conference contact Marin Byrne at (612) 870-3436, email, or download a registration form at the conference Web site: The $150 registration fee includes five meals. Call (800) 338-5253 to reserve rooms at the Lake Lawn Resort.

The conference is designed to appeal to a wide range of audiences. Members of the farming and forestry communities, municipal planners, urban and rural landowners, government agency representatives, researchers, teachers, representatives from non-profit organizations, and the general public are expected to attend.

The UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems is one of 16 organizations sponsoring the event. Lead organizers include the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the Midwest Natural Resources Group of 14 federal agencies in the Big Rivers and Great Lakes Basins.