MENOMONIE — The seventh annual Red Cedar Watershed Conference will feature speakers talking about gulf hypoxia, changing weather patterns and the health of well water.
The conference from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Thursday, March 8, will be held at University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Memorial Student Center. Learn more and register at https://www.uwstout.edu/outreach-engagement/lifelong-learning/other-opportunities/red-cedar-watershed-conference.
The conference brings together professionals, educators, activists and residents from around the region to discuss ways to improve water quality within the Red Cedar watershed, which includes about 40,000 acres of open water and 4,900 miles of waterways in northwestern and west-central Wisconsin.
Event highlights include farm, city and waterfront success stories; profitable land management for clean water; and solutions to runoff pollution that aid excessive phosphorus in surface water, causing blue-green algae blooms that compromise water quality throughout the Red Cedar River watershed, including Dunn County’s Lake Menomin and Tainter Lake.
The keynote speakers are:
· Rebecca Smith, the Nature Conservancy’s Mississippi River Basin-Healthy Rivers, Healthy Gulf director, who works with private and public partners to improve water quality in the basin and reduce gulf hypoxia, where oxygen levels are so low in the water it can no longer support organisms. Smith will speak on “The Mighty Mississippi Red Cedar River’s Role in Nutrients, Complexity and a Collaborative Spirit.”
· Kevin Masarik, groundwater education specialist with the UW-Extension and UW-Stevens Point. His presentation “Quality Matters: Groundwater in the Red Cedar River Basin” will look at data from over 30 years of well testing and provide an overview of common water quality concerns in Wisconsin.
· Dunn County Board Chairman Steve Rasmussen and Dane County Board member Mary M. Kolar will present on “We Are All in This Together!” Rasmussen will talk about the collaboration between governments, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, land owners and citizens to improve water quality in the Red Cedar Basin. Kolar will highlight the accomplishments of Dane County’s Healthy Farms, Healthy Lakes Task Force.
Breakout session speakers are:
· Gary Seipel, a local farmer who has practiced no-till farming for about 20 years; Kristopher Eggen, agronomy manager for Beskar Farms; and John Sipple, district conservationist in Dunn County, presenting “Conservation Pays Dividends.”
· Cheryl Clemens of Harmony Environmental has helped hundreds of waterfront property owners design lake-friendly projects such as shoreline buffers, rain gardens and other infiltration practices. She will present on “Soil Health and Landscaping for the Homeowner.”
· Randy Eide, Menomonie’s director of public works, and Dan Zerr, natural resource educator with UW-Extension, will present “Urban Storm Water Education and Outreach in the Area (What We Are Doing and What You Can Do).”
· Randy A. Lehr, professor of environmental science and management and co-director of the Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation at Northland College in Ashland, will present “Managing Agricultural Lands in the Presence of Changing Weather Patterns.” The presentation will focus on how extreme weather events have affected soil erosion and water quality in the region.
· John Haack, UW-Extension regional natural resources educator, will present “The Ribbon of Life,” giving a few simple tips for shoreland owners to increase the health of their shoreland and attract more watchable wildlife.
· Michael Engleson, executive director of Wisconsin Lakes, and Eric Olson, director and lake specialist for UW-Extension Lakes, will talk on “Boosting the Effectiveness of Local Networks to Protect in Partnership Our Legacy of Lakes.”
UW-Stout and Dunn County are the conference’s main sponsors. For the full list, go to https://www.uwstout.edu/outreach-engagement/lifelong-learning/other-opportunities/red-cedar-watershed-conference/red-1. The Tainter Menomin Lake Improvement Association is hosting the event, and UW-Stout’s Professional Education Programs and Services is coordinating it.