Workshops focusing on the future of Wisconsin’s working lands have been scheduled across the state for February and March. The Working Lands Initiative focuses on updating Wisconsin’s farmland preservation program and providing new tools to protect working lands, including agricultural enterprise areas and purchase of agricultural conservation easements to complement local efforts. Sponsors are the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), American Farmland Trust’s Campaign for Wisconsin Farm and Forest Lands and numerous state and local groups interested in protecting Wisconsin’s agricultural and forested lands.
Here’s a list of upcoming workshops along with contacts for registration and more information:
Valders, Thursday, Feb. 5: 8:30 a.m.-3:15 p.m., Autumn Ridge Golf Club, One Straight Dr., hosted by Glacial Lakes Conservancy, contact Vickie Hall, 920-273-1143, firstname.lastname@example.org
Madison, Tuesday, Feb. 24: location to be announced, hosted by Natural Heritage Land Trust and Capital Area Regional Planning Commission, contact Jim Welsh, 608-258-9797, email@example.com
Town of Oconomowoc, Wednesday, Feb. 25: 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., Oconomowoc Town Hall, W359 N6812 Brown St., hosted by Tall Pines Conservancy, contact Susan Buchanan, 262-369-0500, firstname.lastname@example.org
Juneau, Wednesday, Feb. 25: 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m., Dodge County Administration Building, 1st Floor Conference Room, 127 East Oak St., hosted by Dodge County Land Resources and Parks Department and Drumlin Area Land Trust, contact Nate Olson, 920-386-3948, email@example.com
Burlington, Thursday, Feb. 26: 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Burlington Gateway Campus, Room 102, 380 McCanna Parkway, hosted by Racine County and Kenosha County Land and Water Conservation Departments, contact Chad Sampson, 262-886-8479, Chad.Sampson@goRacine.org, or Rose Skora, 262-857-1948, firstname.lastname@example.org
Town of Saukville, Thursday, Feb. 26: 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m., Saukville Town Hall, 3762 Lakeland Rd., hosted by the Land Conservation Partnership of Ozaukee County, contact Andy Holschbach, 262-284-8271, email@example.com
New Richmond, Wednesday, March 11: time to be announced, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Cashman Conference Center, 1019 South Knowles Ave., hosted by West Central Regional Planning Commission, contact Jay B. Tappen, 715-836-2918, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wausau, Thursday, March 12: time to be announced, North Central Technical College, hosted by Marathon County Conservation, Planning and Zoning Department and Lincoln County Land Information and Conservation Department, contact Andy Johnson, 715-261-6002, email@example.com
Ashland, date and time to be announced, Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center, 29270 County Hwy. G, Agriculture and Energy Resource Center, contact Will Pipkin, 888-379-5490, firstname.lastname@example.org
Agendas for the workshops vary depending on goals of local sponsors, but all will feature a presentation by Bob Wagner, senior director, Farmland Protection Programs, American Farmland Trust. DATCP will also provide information on the components of the Working Lands Initiative proposal.
This round of workshops follow on the heels of six successful gatherings in late 2008, five hosted by the Wisconsin Towns Association (WTA) and one hosted by La Crosse County. More than 450 people took part in those workshops.
“We were impressed by participation in the 2008 workshops, and we’re hoping to build on that success. We encourage a robust discussion of this vitally important topic in 2009,” said DATCP Secretary Rod Nilsestuen.
AFT’s Wagner has made presentations across the country on the importance of farmland and the variety of tools and techniques used by communities to protect farmland resources. He was impressed with the earlier Wisconsin workshops. “The turnout and level of interest suggest a commitment to exploring and considering options to promote and encourage the contribution of agriculture to local economies and the future of Wisconsin communities,” Wagner said.