||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
Land and Water Specialist|
Based at UW-Eau Claire
MAILED: July 27, 1998|
A UW-Extension educator charged with helping provide educational support for maintaining and protecting Wisconsin's land and water now is housed at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Darren Lochner is one of seven basin educators located throughout Wisconsin, positions created when state agencies decided to take a multi-agency approach in regard to the state's land and water protection programs.
The long-term goal, Lochner said, is to develop educational programs within 12 of Wisconsin's 23 major river basins. Among his responsibilities are assessing local needs; conducting education programming in targeted areas within the basin; and creating programs that specialize in content based on resource setting and overall basin priorities, with the focus on educational programming and landowner behavior change.
"A central purpose of the basin educator position will be to work with local community leaders and various natural resources agencies to foster local involvement and decision-making on environmental issues," Lochner said. "The educational programs will address short- and long-term consequences of actions, based on the best information science can provide and the interests and needs of the local citizens.
"We want to let people know what their resources are, what state they are in and what needs to be done to change them."
Lochner will concentrate his efforts on the Lower Chippewa River Basin. The Lower Chippewa River Basin encompasses a majority of Barron, Dunn, Chippewa, Eau Claire, Pierce and Pepin counties, as well as parts of several other counties. It includes portions of the Lower Chippewa River, Eau Claire River and Red Cedar River.
"The advantage of the basin approach is that it breaks down political boundaries," Lochner said. "The boundaries are natural so it reduces the political issues that may be present. We want to bring people to the table to talk about ways they can work together to share resources."
Land use planning, erosion control, animal agriculture and nutrient management are among the topics Lochner predicts will be heavily discussed. "To be effective, we need to reach both rural and urban audiences in our education efforts," Lochner said.
Lochner and other educators will work closely with the state Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, UW-Extension, USDA Farm Services Agency, US Environmental Protection Agency and various citizen-based groups. He also will work closely with the Red Cedar River Basin Steering Committee and the Lower Chippewa River Basin Partnership.
The Red Cedar River Basin Steering Committee made up of people with agricultural interests, professors, interested residents, natural resource agency representatives and lake association members already is an active group, Lochner said. The Lower Chippewa River Basin Partnership, however, is a new effort just now in the organization stage.
Lochner, a native of southern Minnesota, is a former research assistant at the University of Minnesota's College of Natural Resources.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: August 3, 1998