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Stitching the West Back TogetherConservation of Working Landscapes$
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Susan Charnley, Thomas E. Sheridan, and Gary P. Nabhan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226165684

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226165851.001.0001

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Historic Precedents to Collaborative Conservation in Working Landscapes

Historic Precedents to Collaborative Conservation in Working Landscapes

The Ccoon Valley “Cooperative Conservation” Initiative, 1934

(p.77) Spotlight 4.1 Historic Precedents to Collaborative Conservation in Working Landscapes
Stitching the West Back Together

Curt Meine

Gary P. Nabhan

University of Chicago Press

One of the earliest formal efforts of collaborative conservation—called cooperative conservation at the time—began in the 1930s in Coon Valley, Wisconsin. There, Aldo Leopold became an adviser to the first watershed-scale soil conservation demonstration area designated by the U.S. Soil Erosion Service (now USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service). As many as 418 private farming families worked with researchers from the University of Wisconsin, the Soil Erosion Service, and other agencies to restore soils, watercourses, forest cover, wildlife habitat and recreational values to 40,000 acres of land that had become highly degraded by poor farming practices. Local bankers helped finance new projects. The cooperative effort continues today and attracts attention from scientists and land steward advocates. The region has become a hub for sustainably produced and organic products, including the highly successful business, Organic Valley. In addition, it now supports a thriving fishery and flourishing recreational fishing economy.

Keywords:   Coon Valley, Wisconsin, Aldo Leopold, Collaborative conservation, U.S. Soil Erosion Service, Organic Valley

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