Protecting the region’s natural resources, participating in a statewide water-study effort
The Central Sands of Wisconsin is a very special place. Created by receding glaciers in the last ice age and covered by an ancient lake spanning seven modern-day counties, it is a unique and diverse blend of natural and agricultural landscapes. That is why region’s multi-generational, family farmers are committed to environmental practices that protect the land, water and jobs that sustainable farming create.
- The Central Sands are worth protecting. The region is the 2nd most productive growing area in the United States after California’s central valley for processing vegetables and specialty crops, generating billions of dollars in revenue into the states economy and providing tens of thousands of jobs for its citizens.
- It is home to vibrant and growing urban communities from Stevens Point in the North to Wisconsin Dells in the South with rapidly growing rural towns and villages such as Plover and Coloma scattered throughout its breadth.
- Its landscapes are a diverse blend of wetlands, forests, prairies, lakes and trout streams, interspersed with productive, irrigated cropland.
For these precise reasons, the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers not only remain committed to protecting these natural resources, they are expanding their commitments as they join the Department of Natural Resources in its science-based study group , led by UW scientists, DNR water experts and private enterprise scientists to research Central Sands water issues. This is in addition to WPVGA’s existing Water Task Force established in 2009.
It is essential that all potentially impacted parties work together and become vested in seeking farsighted and holistic strategies that will preserve our water resources and meet the long-term needs of all citizens of the central sands.
The central feature that ties the various diverse landscape uses together is the groundwater aquifer that lies beneath the sands. Annually replenished by rain and snow, the aquifer provides the fresh water that drives agriculture, allows communities to grow and prosper, and sustains the natural ecosystems. However in recent years, climate change, municipal use, and irrigation have combined to raise concerns over the long-term sustainability of this precious natural resource. Understandably, these concerns have led to increasing tension in the Central Sands.
What follows will be a series of short biographical sketches describing farmers, food processors, and agricultural enterprises, and the close synergy between them to protect the resources that are so critical to us all – agriculture, the native ecosystems, and the natural resources that are necessary to ensure a safe and secure food supply. These vignettes outline some of the remarkable investments that agriculture has made in seeking long-term strategies to protect the resources of the Central Sands, grow a sustainable agricultural economy and maintain vibrant rural communities.