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Planning for a Sustainable Future in the Great Plains.rtf

VIEWS: 17 PAGES: 198

CONTENTS ................................................................................................................................................... I

PREFACE ......................................................................................................................................................1

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ..........................................................................................................................3

SUMMARY OF DISCUSSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS .............................................................4
Donald A. Wilhite and Kelly Helm Smith
VISIONS FOR THE FUTURE, URGENCY FOR CHANGE .................................................................15

Part I: Overview
Robert Slater
PLANNING FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE IN THE GREAT PLAINS .........................................23
Marvin Duncan, Dennis Fisher, and Mark Drabbenstott
IMPLICATIONS OF GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE .........................................................45
Barry Smit
POLICIES FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT..............................................................................54
Harry Hill and Jill Vaisey
Molly Olson
PLAINS: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES ...............................................................................73
Allen Tyrchniewicz and Stephen Ragone

Part II: Case Studies
CANADA - SOCIOECONOMIC IMPACTS ............................................................................................83
Greg Riemer, Julia Taylor, and Derek Burden
MANDATE IN THE NORTH CENTRAL UNITED STATES ...............................................................88
Charles Francis, James King, Heidi Carter, Lisa Jasa, and Steve Waller
Susan Seacrest
DECADES OF EXPERIENCE TO ENHANCE THE FUTURE ............................................................98
Jim Webber and Dave Hill

Part III: Focus Group Reports
INTRODUCTION .....................................................................................................................................118

AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION FOCUS GROUP ..........................................................................119

LAND AND WATER RESOURCES FOCUS GROUP .........................................................................123

HUMAN AND COMMUNITY RESOURCES FOCUS GROUP ..........................................................131

BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES AND BIODIVERSITY FOCUS GROUP ............................................135

INTEGRATED RESOURCE MANAGEMENT FOCUS GROUP ......................................................140

Part IV: Demonstration Showcase
INTRODUCTION .....................................................................................................................................149

SHOWCASE ABSTRACTS .....................................................................................................................155

Appendix A
SURVEY QUESTIONS ............................................................................................................................190

Appendix B
SYMPOSIUM PROGRAM ......................................................................................................................193


In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development, commonly referred to as the
Brundtland Commission, published Our Common Future. Much of the Commission's report
focused on issues of population, food security, loss of species and genetic resources, energy,
industry, and human settlements, realizing that these issues are interconnected and must be
addressed as part of a global strategy. To achieve the recommendations considered necessary to
preserve and restore the environment of our planet, the Commission recommended the
development of a United Nations program on sustainable development. The discussions and
recommendations that emanated from the Commission provided the central impetus for the
organization of the United Nations' Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED),
held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992. At this conference, debate focused on significant
world environmental and development issues such as climate change, biodiversity,
desertification, and sustainability. Agenda 21 emerged from this conference as a road map for an
environmentally sustainable future.

The term sustainable development originated with the Brundtland Commission report. It was
defined by the Commission as "development that meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Although there is
considerable disagreement within the scientific and policy communities on the precise meaning
of sustainable development, the Brundtland Commission's definition is widely accepted because
it best incorporates the objectives of economic growth and environmental protection.

In the post-UNCED period, many nations pursued sustainable development by creating
national-level task forces to envision a sustainable future for different regions and sectors. For
example, President Clinton created the President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD).
In Canada, this process has unfolded as the Sustainable Development Agenda.

Since 1988, pursuant to a bilateral agreement between the U.S. National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration and Environment Canada, these two nations have jointly sponsored
a series of five symposia on the implications of climate change. These meetings have focused on
regions of mutual interest such as the Great Lakes, Great Plains, and Pacific Northwest. The
focus of this series was widened in May 1995 to address the broader issue of sustainable
development in the context of global environmental change. This symposium, Planning for a
Sustainable Future: The Case of the North American Great Plains, brought together a diverse set
of participants to address the complex economic, social, and environmental issues facing this
region in the decades ahead.

The North American Great Plains is a critical environmental zone where the impacts of climate
change are likely to be more severe and to materialize more rapidly than in less fragile
ecosystems. As we plan for a sustainable future for this region, it is imperative that stakeholders,

sustainability experts, and policy makers have ample opportunity to work together on the full
range of issues before us. Just as there are many visions of the future, there are also many paths
to achieve those visions. We must recognize also that visioning a future for the North American
Great Plains is a long-term process - the goal is to engender a future that is environmentally,
economically, and socially sustainable. Once we envision a common future, the challenge is to
work together to achieve that vision.

Members of the symposium planning committee hope that this meeting made a substantial
contribution to defining a sustainable future for the North American Great Plains. We will
continue this work well beyond the publication of this proceedings.


The International Drought Information Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was pleased
to organize the symposium Planning for a Sustainable Future: The Case of the North American
Great Plains. I am indebted to the principal sponsors: Environment Canada, the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Global Change Program of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture. Special thanks also to the representatives of these agencies: Al
Malinauskas, William Bolhofer, and Gary Evans, respectively, who provided invaluable insights
during the nearly two years of planning that led to this symposium.

I would also like to express my deep appreciation to members of the planning committee and to
my co-chair, Brian O'Donnell, Environment Canada. Members of this committee provided a
steady stream of ideas on all aspects of this meeting that helped keep the planning process on
target. I also acknowledge the assistance of Lynn Mortensen of USDA's Global Change Program
for her ideas, patience, and intellect in facilitating the organization of the focus group sessions.
Her experience and dedication were invaluable in keeping this component of the symposium on

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to the participants of the symposium for their
commitment to the objectives of this symposium. This report is a by-product of that

Donald A. Wilhite
December 20, 1995

Planning for a Sustainable Future:
The Case of the North American Great Plains

Summary of Discussions and Recommendations

Donald A. Wilhite and Kelly Helm Smith

                               The Symposium Planning Process
The purpose of this symposium and associated focus group discussions was to define an
environmentally sustainable future for the North American Great Plains. The symposium
planning process began in July 1993, when representatives of Environment Canada and the U.S.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) met with University of
Nebraska-Lincoln faculty to solicit the latter's interest in organizing a joint U.S./Canadian
symposium on the sustainability of the North American Great Plains. Funding for the meeting
was to be provided through a bilateral agreement between the United States and Canada. This
meeting was linked to five previous joint symposia that focused on the implications of climate
change on regions of common interest to the two nations (such as the Great Lakes and the Pacific
Northwest). This initial planning meeting produced a general consensus on the potential value of
such a symposium, but participants decided that a technical workshop was necessary to
conceptualize both the symposium's primary objectives and the program format needed to
achieve these objectives. This regional workshop, held in October 1993, assembled a diverse and
interdisciplinary group of approximately 30 experts to discuss their views of sustainability in the
Great Plains. Following this technical workshop, the planning committee met to discuss the
symposium planning process and the principal components of the program. Regular conference
calls were held to review progress and to delegate assignments.

A third organizational meeting was held in July 1994, in conjunction with the meeting of the
President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD). The symposium was announced to
members of the PCSD. At this organizational meeting, the symposium planning committee
agreed on a program format that incorporated plenary and focus group sessions, as well as a
demonstration session that allowed participants to showcase environmentally sound,
resource-efficient projects that exemplified the concept of sustainability for the North American
Great Plains. Four of these projects were chosen for presentation during the plenary sessions, two
each from Canada and the United States. In addition to the linkage with the PCSD, the
symposium was also linked to the government of Canada's Sustainable Development Agenda.

                                       The Symposium
The North American Great Plains is a critical environmental zone where the impacts of climate
change are likely to be more severe and to materialize more rapidly than in less fragile
ecosystems. There are many stakeholders in the future of the region, and symposium organizers
attempted to engage these persons and groups in a constructive dialogue about the future of the
region. Conferees were asked to work together to develop recommendations for future action and
policy-relevant research that would lead the region toward a sustainable future. Ideally,
long-term solutions should be viable environmentally, economically, and socially.

Planning for a Sustainable Future: The Case of the North American Great Plains was an
opportunity for those involved in sustainable development to come together to exchange ideas,
ranging from broad policy-level perspectives to highly specific, practical ways to conserve
resources and minimize environmental impact. Sustainable development issues were discussed in
a regional context, with national and international overtones. Speakers highlighted specific
dimensions of the sustainability debate, examining these issues in light of projected changes in

The three-day symposium program featured plenary sessions with overview and technical papers
and case studies of specific projects, a showcase session highlighting more than 40 projects,
focus group sessions, a wrap-up session for presentation of focus group reports, and a
symposium synthesis session in which key U.S. and Canadian participants highlighted what they
considered to be the fundamental questions, issues, and recommendations raised during the
symposium. The planning committee met immediately following the symposium to discuss the
symposium outcome and potential next steps. A document, Visions for the Future - Urgency for
Change (see pp. 13-16), was prepared by members of the planning committee during this
meeting to synthesize information presented during the symposium and to reemphasize the need
to initiate a process to plan for a sustainable future for the North American Great Plains.

                                   Focus Groups: Overview
Working or focus groups are routinely incorporated in the format of conferences and symposia
where the goal is to produce recommendations for a future research and policy agenda. To be
successful, considerable thought must be given to this process well in advance of the meeting.
For this symposium, the planning committee's goal for the focus groups was to identify key
research and policy thrusts that could be implemented by existing or newly established
committees or institutions in the region and the transmittal of these recommendations to the
PCSD, the government of Canada's Sustainable Development Agenda, and other organizations
and institutions for possible further action.

To achieve this goal, a subcommittee of the symposium planning committee reviewed the format
and output from other meetings on sustainability issues or related resource management topics.
This subcommittee proposed alternative approaches and prepared a set of predefined questions to
serve as a guide to discussions of each of the focus groups. These materials were shared with the
planning committee several weeks before the meeting. The planning committee met on the day
preceding the symposium to further explore these organizational alternatives, make revisions in
focus group questions, and select the leadership of the focus groups.

Focus groups were organized around five themes:
1. Agricultural production
2. Land and water resources
3. Human and community resources
4. Biological resources and biodiversity
5. Integrated resource management

The planning committee's original plan was to have a focus group address climate as a theme.
After considerable discussion, it was decided that the issue of climate transcends each of the
themes above and, therefore, the issues associated with climate were best addressed in each
group, rather than separately. Climate specialists were asked to distribute themselves among the
various groups.

Each focus group was asked to address the following questions:
1. What are the principal stressors related to your group's topic affecting the North American
Great Plains? Economic, policy, environmental, and social/cultural stressors should be
considered. These stressors should be considered at various scales ranging from local to global.
2. What are examples of successes (e.g., best practices, tools)? How do you know they work?
Where are the gaps?
3. Identify specific actions or programs that would lead to a more sustainable future for the
region. Be specific by addressing the following questions: What can be done? How can it be
done? Who will implement it? What can WE do?

One full day of the three-day symposium was devoted to a discussion of these questions by the
focus groups - the afternoon of the second day and the morning of the third day.

Welcoming and keynote presentations on the first day were given by E. Benjamin Nelson,
governor of Nebraska and chairperson of the Great Plains Partnership Council; J. Robert Kerrey,
U.S. senator from Nebraska; Robert W. Slater, assistant deputy minister, Environmental
Conservation Service of Environment Canada; and Molly Harriss Olson, executive director,
President's Council on Sustainable Development. Subsequent presentations on economic and
social stressors, the implications of global environmental change, and policies for a sustainable

future also helped participants understand the complex issues that place the North American
Great Plains at risk in the 21st century. The information in these presentations provided a
foundation for the focus group discussions.

Participants were allowed to select the focus group they wanted to attend. Although each focus
group was asked to respond to the same questions, each approached this assignment in a unique
manner. A summary of each focus group's discussions is included in this report (see Part III).
The discussion that follows is a distillation of the major recommendations of the focus groups.

                                     Focus Groups: Synthesis
Underlying the focus groups' discussions was the general understanding that moving toward
ways of life that are environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable will require new
social values; changes to economic, agricultural, and land use policies; and a better
understanding of ecosystems and natural resources.

At the heart of the problem is replacing the prevailing attitude of consumerism with one of
stewardship, and replacing the long-standing U.S. tradition of individualism with a broader
responsibility to community. Instead of consuming goods and resources, we need to start
thinking about preserving them, and being sure we are not using up ground water, soil fertility,
and other natural resources at the expense of future generations.

Of course, it isn't just a matter of changing individual attitudes. Prevailing values are reflected in
policy, tradition, and law: U.S. agricultural policies tend to favor short-term production,
sometimes at the expense of the long-term resource base, and some resources such as ground
water are drastically undervalued, because our current economic system does not take depletion
of natural resources into account. U.S. environmental law mostly relies on mandates and
regulations, which tends to discourage local and individual initiative.

The agricultural production focus group observed that farmers face many constraints and
pressures and may often have few real choices: they need alternative crops, markets and
value-added products, and the opportunity to change. But agricultural policy currently favors
high-yield, monocultural crops, which give producers less flexibility and are harder on the land
and more vulnerable to widespread disease. Farmers also face heavy debt burdens, lack of access
to equity, risk that is personal rather than corporate, high property taxes, high transportation
costs, and high costs for fertilizer and pesticides. They have little leverage against big
agribusiness firms, virtually no control over global commodity prices, and seemingly little
political clout. Many farm families must rely on off-farm income to make ends meet. Both rural
families and rural communities would be stronger if they could rely on a more broadly based
regional economy.

A recurring theme of the conference was the need to establish a sense of place, which would
serve both as a source of strength for political action and as a source of wisdom and experience
in managing regional natural resources. Some noted that it is harder to establish a sense of place
in the Great Plains than in other regions because there is no body of water or other obvious
rallying point. The common economic and climatic conditions that define the Great Plains
spatially and culturally are harder to grasp.

One possible source of regional identity is to emphasize the Plains' importance as a major source
of food for the world's growing population. The community and human resources focus group
suggested that deep-seated values might be changed most effectively by giving people in the
region a new source of a sense of worth based on their importance to the rest of the world. When
the Great Plains were first settled, farmers may have enjoyed higher status, with a more direct
recognition of the importance of their role as food providers. But as world commodity markets
and agricultural policies have become more complex, that status has gradually been lost. The
group suggested that Great Plains residents could regain their sense of worth by focusing on their
role as providers of a significant portion of the world's food supply, now and in the future.

A key problem that each group touched on in different ways was how to communicate with and
motivate the many different kinds of people whose efforts and energies will be needed to achieve
sustainability. Groups that addressed the question in depth identified government as part of the
problem. A regulatory approach, with solutions imposed by remote policy makers, engenders
backlash. One group observed that environmental mandates tend to make property owners
rebellious. If people felt that they had more freedom, they would be more likely to make
decisions with the environment in mind, such as protecting wetlands and wildlife habitats. The
role of government should be to work with people to establish overarching goals and a broad
policy framework, but the responsibility - and information and funds - to create and implement
specific initiatives should be turned over to the communities and regions that are affected.
Having the chance to create solutions and to help shape their own future gives people far more
incentive to be part of the solution - and it also taps into their firsthand experience and insight in
dealing with local issues and problems.

In the following section, actions or policies recommended by the five focus groups have been
distilled for the reader. No attempt has been made to synthesize the responses to questions 1 and
2 (i.e., identification of stressors and success stories, respectively). Readers are encouraged to
examine the full text of the summary for each of the focus groups to acquire a sense of the
discussion that unfolded in each of these groups in response to the questions provided by the
planning committee.

                                 Focus Group Recommendations
Recommendation 1. Appoint a Task Force on Sustainability in the Great Plains
The Integrated Resource Management focus group recommended that a task force be appointed
to ensure that people and institutions in the Great Plains begin moving toward sustainability. The

task force, to consist of representatives of many segments of society, both public and private,
should not be a government body, but should be able to draw on the data and expertise of
government and other stakeholders. The task force could very well be linked with the Great
Plains Partnership Council, because that organization already has a relatively broad
representation. Other possible starting points would include the Western Governors' Association
and the Western Premiers' Association.

For the process to work, leadership will be required from both private and public sectors and
from citizen groups. The motivating force may be a crisis or a growing sense of urgency. A
charismatic, visionary task force leader who can articulate the idea of sustainability to a variety
of audiences would also be required.
      Charges to the task force:
          Determine what is needed for sustainability, balancing resource availability and use.
           It is important to determine the limits for resources to aid people in adjusting to
           conservation goals.
          Determine data gaps, availability, and quality.
          Develop a set of achievable goals and directions through a process of extensive public
           involvement and consultation. The initial goals for the Great Plains must be very
           basic, focusing on the macro level. Communities should fit their goals into a regional
           or national framework. In New Zealand, local groups are developing management
           plans in the context of shared national objectives. Manitoba is trying a version of it,
           too, with regional and local round tables fitting into larger processes. Local goals and
           actions cannot take place in isolation, or else there will be competition among
          With those goals in place, work toward developing integrated policies and policy
           instruments, with extensive stakeholder dialogue and negotiation.
          Transfer responsibility to local people for action; the people must take control for
           effective action. One example of this is the Manitoba process, which is now moving
           toward local action.
          Make recommendations to the political sponsors (such as the Great Plains Partnership
           Council) and to the public. The report to the public must be clear and concise.

Recommendation 2. Open a Dialog on Sustainability
We need to connect different sectors of society to be sure that each can benefit from the wealth
of information that others have. When groups do not communicate with one another, good ideas
and solutions do not go as far as they could, and information needs go unmet. Sharing
information with local decision makers is also a good way for government to empower
communities; unfortunately, government agencies do not always communicate well with one
another, much less with people who are even more removed from habitual patterns of

Partnerships must be established between government and groups or communities. The focus
groups identified many sectors of society that must be involved in discussions of sustainability:
      Environmental groups
      Bankers
      Agricultural input suppliers
      Consumers
      Labor
      Food processors
      Grain dealers
      Business, both big and small
      Agricultural producers
      Transportation
      Agricultural equipment manufacturers
      Politicians
      Commodities dealers
      Researchers and scientists
      Government agencies and organizations

Information delivery can be improved through a targeted approach by educational institutions.
Universities can facilitate improved communication by the development of a better interface
between scientists, policy makers, and agricultural producers.

Grassroots communication. We need to take advantage of pre-existing information channels. In
fact, identifying and respecting the informal channels within small communities may be the only
credible way to introduce new ideas. Working with community leaders, both elected and de
facto, will be helpful.

The cooperative extension service may be useful in communicating issues about sustainability to
a diverse audience; the broader public education system could also play a role here, especially
given that the current generation of youth seems particularly receptive to information about the
planet and the environment. Whatever roles these and other government organizations have, we
need to be sure that the different units of government are acting in coordination and are not
contradicting one another.

Other organizations that could communicate with their members about sustainability include
senior citizens' groups; Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other similar groups; 4-H; and many others.

It will be especially important to involve the business community early on, because the support
of business leaders will be critical to the success of grassroots initiatives. Business is also a
group that may feel threatened by sustainable development if it is not involved in initiatives from
the outset.

Several focus groups noted that as Internet access becomes more commonplace, traditional
information channels will become less important, with more people able to connect directly to
acquire current research findings.

Data and information needs. The Integrated Resources Management focus group noted that the
U.S.-Canadian border sometimes hinders the flow of data. U.S. and Canadian data are often
incompatible in format. Canadians also have a different attitude about data: it is expensive to
collect, so people are increasingly being charged appropriate fees to use it. The United States is
moving toward user fees, but data is still generally available.

The group also noted a need for information, not just data, and for regional-scale models rather
than global analytical models. The group recommended that an environmental information center
be created, with the goal of providing impartial data and information to decision makers.

Recommendation 3. Improve Understanding between Food Consumers and Food
We need to improve communication about the importance of food and agriculture to a wider
audience, which should include:
      U.S. Department of Education
      Policy makers
      Consumers
      County commissioners and members of state associations
      Media, especially major newspapers, networks, national magazines, etc.
      Research, extension, Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST)
      Nonprofit organizations, societies, farm bureaus
      Organizations focused on creating urban awareness of agriculture and the perspective of
       the individual farmer

Recommendation 4. Research Needs
Develop indicators of sustainability. Indicators suggested by the focus groups included:
      Soil loss
      Soil quality

      Surface and ground water quality
      Ground water depletion rates
      Aquifer vulnerability
      Wetlands extent, especially small ones, which could be measured using satellite
      Crop cover and productivity, measured by digital image processing. More work needs to
       be done to improve the level of detail so that measurements can be made for a single
      Species inventories and population counts
      Air quality
      Human health
      Establishment of resource limits

Assess regional vulnerability. Groups suggested that a regionally integrated vulnerability
assessment of the Great Plains be conducted, based on a host of climate model scenarios. This
study should assess potential changes in water availability, suitability of crops, and changes in
soil moisture regimes. The study should also consider the possible effects of changing
demographics, trade policy, and so forth on the region.

Conduct soil ecology research. Groups identified several soil-related research needs, and also
emphasized that research findings must be shared with agricultural producers and others who can
make practical use of them.
      Soil fungi and their relationship to crops
      Nitrogen-fixing bacteria
      Biological toxic waste disposal systems, such as worms and bacteria
      Determination of the long-term effects of soil tilling, and the effects of low till
      Replenishment of organic matter by educating farmers on techniques to incorporate plant
       stubble into the soil
      Impacts of agrochemicals on soil productivity
      Developmental work on fertilizers that do not wash out of the soil and that increase
       nutrient availability

On-farm energy use. Using less energy would help farmers reduce costs and would be
compatible with the conservation ethic needed for sustainability. But more research is needed.
      Is it possible to consume only local energy? Can tractors be run on biofuels such as
       canola or soybean oil that are produced on-farm? How much land would be necessary to
       produce enough fuel?
      Can solar, wind, and water power become the mainstay of agricultural energy use?

      Can agriculture be more energy efficient?

Changes in how research is conducted. The agricultural production group recommended that
more research be conducted on farms rather than on research stations. On-farm research helps
develop closer ties between researchers and agricultural producers, as well as the local financial
community and others whose support is important. This approach would help to promote the
"team" concept of research, building stronger partnerships between farmers and researchers. The
idea of "ecoregions" should be incorporated as research sites are selected, to avoid duplicating
research but to ensure that research will meet the needs of farmers in various regions. More
research should be approached in a "systems" context to fully address the complex issues
associated with sustainability in the region.

Recommendation 5. Implement Policies that Support Sustainability
      Promote local/federal planning to preserve prime farmland, including zoning bylaws and
       development rights.
      Implement a food tax to fund systems research and other research that will benefit
       agricultural producers.
      Target subsidies and incentives to things we can measure, such as soil carbon loss, rather
       than to production. Establish trust funds to offset market costs instead of paying direct
      Develop policies that value environmental and social capital as well as economic or
       human-made capital.

Recommendation 6. Create a Sustainability Notebook
Representatives of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) offered to lead
efforts to establish a sustainability notebook to serve as a guide on sustainable development,
helping a variety of people understand what sustainable development is and giving examples of
ongoing initiatives. This notebook would be available at the IISD's World Wide Web site and
would represent a never-ending work in progress.

Recommendation 7. Availability of Symposium Proceedings
The proceedings of this symposium should be made available to a wide audience, both through
traditional publication channels and through the Internet. The IISD in Winnipeg volunteered to
make this report available through their Web site. It will also be available through the National
Drought Mitigation Center's Web site at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

A workshop or series of workshops was considered to be another useful approach to
disseminating the results of the symposium and promoting the concept of sustainability to many
sectors throughout the region.

About the Authors
Donald A. Wilhite is a member of the faculty of the Department of Agricultural Meteorology at
the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is also the director of the National Drought Mitigation
Center (NDMC) and the International Drought Information Center. He specializes in studies of
the impact of climate on society and societal response to climatic events, particularly drought.
Dr. Wilhite has organized numerous workshops, training seminars, and conferences on climate
and drought-related issues. He was the principal organizer of a conference, Drought
Management in a Changing West: New Directions for Water Policy, held in Portland, Oregon, in
May 1994, and the symposium Planning for a Sustainable Future: The Case of the North
American Great Plains.

Kelly Helm Smith is an information specialist with the National Drought Mitigation Center. Ms.
Smith's responsibilities for the NDMC include ensuring that materials are written to
communicate effectively with a broad readership and helping envision, organize, research, write,
and edit the NDMC's WWW site. Before joining the NDMC, Ms. Smith worked in corporate
public relations, specializing in researching and writing about environmental issues affecting the
printing and publishing industries. Before that, she was a reporter at daily newspapers in Illinois
and Wisconsin.

Visions for the Future, Urgency for Change

We are living too close to the edge! In the North American Great Plains, stretching from the
Canadian prairies to the high plateau of northern Mexico, our lives are shaped by climate, soils,
water, people, and heritage. Our future is highly dependent on natural resources and on how we
interact with other species in a complex ecosystem. Our current economies are highly dependent
on weather, native soil fertility, world markets, and the will of those who work the land. Such
economies are sustainable only in the short term, and only with substantial investment of fossil
fuels and other resources from outside the region. To practice economic stewardship, we need to
live on nature's interest and not on nature's capital.

The well-being of the Great Plains isn't all that's at stake. We are a vital food-producing region
for the United States, Canada, and the rest of the world, and if current trends continue, dwindling
agricultural lands and increasing population are going to collide. Today the United States has
about 1.8 acres of productive farmland per person. It is estimated that 1.2 acres per person are
needed to support the current standard of living, and the balance is available to produce food for
export. The U.S. population is increasing by 3 to 4 million per year, about half from births and
half from immigration, and is projected to double by the year 2055. One million acres of land are
lost each year to urbanization (highways, parking lots, industry, homes), and another one million
acres are lost because of agriculture (through salinization, excessive erosion, and general decline
in productivity). Simple calculations show that by the year 2055 there will be about 0.6 acres of
productive land per person, about half what is needed to support our current lifestyle. Our
grandchildren will be working adults by then. It is urgent that we confront and work within the
population and land resource reality.

Our ability to combine economic and environmental stewardship is rooted in our sense of place,
our knowledge of the land and communities that sustain us, and our understanding of the role we
play in worldwide markets and the planetary ecosystem. The Great Plains have fertile soils that
have fed our population and helped to feed the world, but our natural resource-based economy in
this place depends on many factors far beyond our control. Most production inputs are imported -
fossil fuels, pesticides, fertilizers, and farm equipment - and the only way to gain control over
increasing costs is to seek systems that depend on native rather than imported resources. More
than 50% of our agricultural production is exported as unprocessed feed grains, though livestock
represents a value-added export. The market value of all of these products depends on weather in
other parts of the world, on prices of energy and transportation, on political alliances, and on the
goals of multinational corporations that control much of the export. These corporations are
accountable to their shareholders, and not to any country, producer, or consumer. This fragile
economic situation is similar to that faced by farmers and ranchers in most developing countries.
There is a growing awareness of the need for economic stewardship, parallel to the
environmental stewardship needed for soil and water.

Another defining characteristic of this place is open space, increasingly a function of farm and
ranch size. Space has a big influence on community and infrastructure. With consolidation of
farmlands into larger holdings and fewer people living on the land and in rural communities,
there is loss of critical services that contribute to quality of life on the plains. Loss of people
from rural areas leads to the exodus of medical services, increased distance to schools and
shopping, and disappearance of what we know as human community. Although information
technology has the potential to bring us closer in some ways, this does not offset the loss of
human interaction. In our move toward an industrial agriculture, based on larger farms, higher
use of external production inputs, and perceived economies of scale, we should heed the words
of Wendell Berry: "Would you rather have the neighbor's farm? Or have a neighbor?"

On the positive side, the Great Plains have natural resilience. If we do not overstress our natural
resources, there is opportunity for regeneration of grasslands, natural soil fertility, abundant
water resources. The Sandhills region of Nebraska serves as a natural recharge area for the
Ogallala aquifer, but only if we do not extract too much water from the southern reaches of this
magnificent natural resource. Success stories in this region and others nearby show how bilateral
concern turned into action can make a difference:
      There has been a major cleanup of the Great Lakes over the last two decades as a result of
       concerted efforts in Canada and the United States.
      Limited tillage with newly available planting equipment has substantially reduced
       primary land preparation costs and soil/residue disturbance.
      Irrigation scheduling, low-pressure sprinkler systems, surge management of row
       irrigation, and research on crop water needs have made water use more efficient.
      Use of late spring soil tests for available nitrogen have helped Iowa farmers reduce N
       applications by an average of 50 pounds per acre without sacrificing yields.

Parts of a strategy for a sustainable future in the Great Plains may include:
      Farming and ranching systems that are highly efficient in the use of soil nutrients and
       contemporary water and energy (as opposed to fossil water or energy), including crop
       rotations, efficient dryland agriculture, and integrated crop/animal systems; these systems
       are designed to use nature's interest rather than continuing to spend nature's capital.
      Use of soil-building crops and other sustainable agricultural practices, plus integrative
       design of systems that (1) work from a watershed perspective, (2) connect wildlife habitat
       zones from one farm to another, and (3) capture water and nutrients within that zone for
       use by crops and livestock.
      Design and implementation of systems that reduce the impact of human intervention
       (leave a smaller footprint) on the natural environment, including careful zoning of
       agricultural and other sector activities, minimizing atmospheric and water pollution, and
       generally promoting the high level of environmental quality that characterizes the region.
      Products that are diverse and (1) have maximum value-added, both on the farm and in the
       local community; (2) have local markets and replace some food and other products

       currently imported into the plains; and (3) have potential markets elsewhere, promoting
       economic health in agriculture and potential to reinvest in the land.
      Design of political support systems and national and international regulations that
       promote diversity in crops and products that (1) are appropriate to each place, (2) do not
       reduce the productive potential of the soil, and (3) create win-win trade situations on a
       global scale.
      Development of economies of scope in each place that connect rural and urban dwellers;
       also, educate all people about the sources and importance of food and natural resources
       and how people can live sustainably within the environment of that place and with
       minimal extraction of natural resources.
      An intensive research and demonstration effort to better understand the functioning of
       this fragile ecosystem, the interaction between surface and subsurface water courses, and
       the complex interactions among soil, water, climate, people, and other species that inhabit
       this place.
      Adoption of a sense of importance of cycles in nature - those of water, nutrients, and life
       - similar to that sense developed by First Nation peoples in their adaptation to the unique,
       harsh, and variable climate of this place.
      Education of non-farm and non-rural populations about the importance of food and the
       environment, the fragility of the ecosystem here, and the need for all people to be
       concerned about and involved in their food systems and ecoregions.

The future is not what it used to be! One of the most significant characteristics of the future is
change, and the rate of change is accelerating. Some of the change is technological, and we can
direct that change toward what is useful to humans and at the least not harmful to most other
species. We can choose to put some technologies on the shelf. Other changes, such as global
warming or development of a hole in the ozone, are due in large part to human population and
applications of some technologies. These are more difficult to influence in the short term, but can
be changed in the long term through education and international accord on their extraordinary
importance to the human population.

There are multiple visions of what may be possible in the future. It is essential that we explore
these visions and their implications, in terms of resources, human population, survival of other
species, and health of the global ecosystem. We should select visions that are conditioned by and
consistent with our values and moral code. They should be sensitive to the needs of people
everywhere, not just those in the Great Plains. Inhabitants of the earth share a common future.

According to Governor Ben Nelson (Nebraska), "If we do what we've always done, we'll get
what we've always gotten." Participants in Planning for a Sustainable Future were clear that
business as usual is not good enough for the future. We have the information and ability to
develop non-extractive food production systems, to maintain quality of soil, water, and air, and
to design healthy and equitable economic systems for the future. We can design systems for

today that do not constrain the options for future generations. The burning question is whether
we have the will and commitment.

Symposium Planning Committee
May 1995
Donald A. Wilhite, Co-Chair
Brian OíDonnell, Co-Chair
Charles F. Francis, Lead Author
Symposium Planning Committee -

Brian Abrahamson, Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration
Derek Bjonback, Environment Canada
William Bolhofer, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Gary Evans, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Charles A. Francis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
David Grimes, Environment Canada
Ross Herrington, Environment Canada
Alice J. Jones, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Al Malinauskas, Environment Canada
Joan Masterton, Environment Canada
Lynne Mortenson, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Brian O'Donnell, Environment Canada
Steve Ragone, S. E. Ragone and Associates
Kelly Smith, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Allen Tyrchniewicz, International Institute for Sustainable Development
                       Donald A. Wilhite, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Part I


Sustainable Development: A Prescription for the Future

Robert Slater

As a keystone of the global food system, the success in creating a self-reinforcing cycle of
ecological health and economic growth here on the Great Plains will be an important indicator of
our capacity to achieve sustainable development on a global scale. With all the skills and talents
available, expectations of your leadership are high.

                                          The Challenge
The challenge we face is avoiding being trapped in a situation in which our appetites collide with
the ecological system that supports us.

The need for human food, fuel, and shelter is placing an enormous strain on our natural resources
- and on nature itself. The world's population is now 5.6 billion and increasing at the rate of 100
million per year, and it may hit 11 billion by the middle of the next century. At the same time,
the world economy is also expanding. At 4% a year, global GDP will grow from $20 trillion to
$160 trillion by the middle of the next century.

The result is that ecological limits are being breached on regional and global scales. Regionally,
cod stocks off the coast of Newfoundland have collapsed as a result of unsustainable harvests.
Globally, evidence to date suggests that our climate is changing more rapidly than it was at the
end of the last ice age and that we are losing biological diversity rapidly. We don't even know the
long-term effects of many of these changes on our economies or our health. Another problem is
the increasing number of chemicals and toxins being released into our waterways and
atmosphere. DDT used to control malaria in Zimbabwe is showing up in the beluga whales of the
Canadian Arctic. Native Innuit women's breast milk has been shown to contain chemicals and
toxins at concentrations that would not be allowed in dairy products purchased at the store.

The prosperity of future generations depends on economic growth, because the current global
economy cannot sustain the needs of the current population and because economic growth is
vital to controlling population growth. But future prosperity also depends on sustaining a critical
mass of nature. The arithmetic doesn't work, because a $20 trillion economy has already
exceeded these ecological limits. So the prospects for a $160 trillion economy are not good if a
$160 trillion economy is just eight times more of the same.

                                            The Solution
The critical step is realizing that our future condition is a result of our individual and collective
choice. It is not preordained, and we have the power to determine a different future.

The peculiar feature of these trends is that they don't show up on our political or economic radar
screens. They don't lend themselves to easy imagery. The value of healthy ecosystems is not
captured in the marketplace. The loss of species is hard to measure - especially when so much of
what we are losing has neither been named nor catalogued. The effects of climatic change - and
even of ozone depletion - will take a long time to manifest themselves. The effects of much toxic
pollution are felt by other people in other places.

The role of government, therefore, is to find ways of capturing value and ensuring the visibility
of ecological effects so that political and economic decisions can be made in a way that
acknowledges our obligations to the future. What that means, more specifically, is that
government's role is to find ways to level the conservation of nature and the adaptation of human
enterprise through the marketplace. Government has a big role to play in science and research -
both in monitoring and understanding the state of nature and the causes and consequences of its
loss. It has a role to play in creating the legal framework to ensure responsibility for fish stocks,
the ozone layer, climate, and other aspects of global commons. And finally, it has a role to play
in correcting the incentive effects of existing policies and institutional arrangements.

These are critical roles - but in the grand scheme of things they are small because what
ultimately matters is the decisions made by individuals and the action taken by communities to
sustain nature and to sustain growth in the diversity of places and circumstances in which only
local knowledge and local action is effective.

My prescription would be:
1. Set goals for the sort of prosperity you want, the amount of pollution to cut, the amount of
nature to save.
2. Engage people from all walks of life who can take direct action.
3. Set targets and schedules that are understandable and manageable for the next ten years in the
various categories.
4. Monitor progress, report, and communicate, communicate, communicate.

About the Author
Robert Slater was appointed assistant deputy minister, Environmental Conservation,
at the Canadian Department of the Environment in November 1993. He joined the Department in
1971 and has a wealth of senior-level experience across a wide range of domestic and

international issues, working both in the field and at headquarters. He played a leading role in the
Canadian delegation to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
(UNCED). Mr. Slater also served as assistant deputy minister of Corporate Policy, in which
capacity he was instrumental in developing the Green Plan, the Canada-U.S. Accord on Air
Quality, and numerous other national and international environmental initiatives. Previous
appointments include assistant deputy minister of Environmental Protection and regional director
general for Ontario. He was chairman of the International Joint Commission's Great Lakes Water
Quality Board for six years and a member of the executive committee of the Multilateral Fund
for the protection of the ozone layer. He is also a member of the Board of the World
Environment Centre. Mr. Slater's early career involved working as a teacher in West Africa, as
technical services manager for a water pollution control company in North America and Europe,
and as manager of an environmental consulting organization in Canada.

Planning for a Sustainable Future in the Great Plains

Marvin Duncan, Dennis Fisher, and Mark Drabenstott

The Great Plains represents a unique physical, sociological, and economic region in North
America. Ranging up to several hundred miles wide at its northern end to only two to three
hundred miles at its southern terminus, the area is astride much of what early explorers called the
Great American Desert (Figure l). The region runs from the Canadian prairie provinces in the
north to Texas and New Mexico in the south. Along the western extremity of America's and
Canada's heartland, states and provinces within this area share much in common.

This chapter focuses on the economic and social stressors of the Great Plains, and on adaptation
to changing social and economic circumstances, primarily since 1980. This chapter will address
the experience of the U.S. Great Plains. However, the Canadian Plains shares much of the same

No analysis of the Great Plains can be complete without consideration of its natural endowment
of climate, soil resources, water supply, and geographic place. However, at this conference, those
issues are the responsibility of others.

Figure 1. Population change, 1982-92, for the Great Plains region, by counties.

                               From Settlement to the Present
The region was settled quickly, and its residents have been involved in an ongoing process of
change and adjustments.

The Endowment at Settlement
Those who live in the North American Great Plains have exhibited, since settlement, an
ambivalence toward two fundamental elements of their environment. Those who promoted

settlement in the region encouraged an initial endowment of people, infrastructure, and
institutions that far exceeded the need for, or the capacity of, the region to support sustainable
patterns of life and work on the Great Plains.

The pattern of homesteading, as a primary means of settlement, generally limited farmers to one
quarter section (160 acres) of land. A bit later, in exchange for planting trees on land that
generally was devoid of them in its native environment, farmers were able to obtain an extra 160
acres, called a tree claim. Late in the homestead period, and after many personal failures from
trying to wrest a living out of a much different and more unforgiving environment from that of
the Middle West and the East, the federal government provided homestead tracts of 640 acres in
some parts of the Great Plains--Nebraska, for example.

Transcontinental railroads, given land by the federal government in exchange for laying tracks
across the continent, began to promote settlement of those lands to develop an indigenous source
of freight to be hauled from the region and inbound demand for freight to be delivered to
locations along the railroads. A number of railroads began to build branch rail lines to further
facilitate freight collection and distribution.

Communities were established every 10 miles along railroad lines to provide watering stops for
the railroad steam engines and to provide communities within easy travel distance for settlers
dependent on transportation by horse. Merchants, lawyers, bankers, teachers, adventurers, young
people starting their careers, those seeking a second chance, and assorted scoundrels all flooded
these little towns seeking their future, a fresh start, or an opportunity to become rich. Alexis de
Tocqueville in Democracy in America (1835) commented on the westward expansion earlier in
the settlement period of the United States: "Millions are marching at once towards the same
horizon. Their language, their religion, their manners differ; their object is the same. Fortune has
been promised to them somewhere in the West and to the West they go to find it." Some thirty
years later, similarly diverse people populated the Great American Desert, and their objectives
were no different from those de Tocqueville had observed.

The number of towns and businesses exceeded, almost from the beginning, what would be
required by - and could be supported by - the settlers. Too many towns spawned too many
schools, too many churches, too many saloons, too many court houses and jails, too many
merchants, and too many roads to be supported by the more extensive type and scale of
agriculture that emerged to replace homestead agriculture. Perhaps too many governmental units
were created as well, though that remains an unresolved issue 130 years after settlement began in

Too many people arrived, as well. Railroads and land companies heavily promoted the region,
often inaccurately. For example, the Northern Pacific (NP) Railroad advertised the availability of
Great Plains land to Europeans, extolling the richness of the region and the prospects to grow
wealthy in farming. To attract hard-working German immigrants, the NP provided maps to them

across which was sprawled in huge letters the name of Bismarck, a small and rough railroad
town and, incidentally, the title of the revered German ruler. European peasants, used to hard
work and inspired by the prospect of owning land, flocked to the Great Plains. People left the
more settled parts of the United States, as well, to join the settlement of the Great Plains. Alas,
many would find the region too demanding, lacking in financial reward and social interaction,
and would move on to the West Coast or back to the more settled areas from which they came.
Some, in desperation, committed suicide to escape the incessant wind and the utter isolation of
the prairie - a fate that befell more pioneer women than men. It was often a bleak and lonely life
for women, isolated from their own gender and deprived of the social support system of U.S. and
European cities.

Once on the frontier, many people had no viable alternative but to tough it out since they had
nowhere to return to, and usually no money with which to finance a return. So they put up with
drought, snow storms, hail, tornadoes, grasshoppers, rattlesnakes, illness, loneliness, claim
jumpers, and assorted adventurers. For their efforts we are indebted. They wrested a productive
land from great emptiness.

Remoteness of the region from the rest of North America created a stubborn independence on the
part of Great Plains people. Most of the supply, distribution, marketing, and finance services
used by settlers came from the larger cities to the east. The natural suspicion of those on the
Plains was that they were often taken advantage of by business men from outside the region.
Indeed, that view fueled a native insularity, giving rise to the often-repeated lament of the Plains,
we buy retail, sell wholesale, and pay the freight both ways. Today they would write a
country/western song about it - maybe they already have.

That insularity of the people, developed out of adversity, remoteness, and a need to depend on
themselves, was understandable and perhaps even useful in a much earlier development stage.
However, its remnants even today keep people from reaching out for new ideas and from
building the network of social, political, and business alliances needed for success in a modern

It bears repeating to note that although the Great Plains region was thinly populated as settlement
began, it was not unpopulated. The region had been ceded by treaty to Native American nations
before westward expansion pressures began. Unfortunately, as was the typical case, the United
States did not respect treaty rights of Native Americans and through political pressure, new
treaties, chicanery, and military force continued to move these people onto less and less desirable
land. The isolation of Native Americans, often on the least desirable land, has hindered their own
self-development and the integration of their aspirations into a broader fabric of economic
growth and development in the Great Plains. Native Americans are an important people in the
Great Plains and their economic growth and development must increasingly be recognized within
the broader development efforts across the region.

Although this chapter focuses on the Great Plains within the United States, the Plains area of the
Canadian prairie provinces shares much of the same background and faces most of the same
challenges. Indeed, one of the linkages that binds the Great Plains together is that similarity of
experience within the Plains region, contrasted to the differences between the Plains region and
other regions of North America. For example, in North Dakota it is often said that farmers in the
state's central and western regions have more in common with Kansans and residents of the
Texas high plains than with the Red River Valley residents astride the North Dakota/Minnesota

A Pattern of Adaptation and Adjustment
The history of the Great Plains since settlement has been one of ongoing response to change,
both to dynamics from within the region and to nationally based changes. By many measures the
region has very successfully adapted to the changes required of it. It has become an agricultural
production powerhouse, but it has not been able to diversify its economy as much as the rest of
the country has.

The region's nonagricultural manufacturing base has grown as well, but it remains a relatively
small part of the U.S. manufacturing base. However, aircraft, defense-related weapons
development, and oil industry equipment manufacturing have long been important to the region
and an important contribution to the nation's manufacturing base. The region remains a limited
contributor to finance, insurance, real estate development, and other service industries as well.
Finally, only a small proportion of the nation's tourist dollars are spent in the Great Plains, with
an even smaller proportion in which the tourist destination is within the region.

More recent change (since 1970) in the demographics of the Great Plains has been substantial.
Population has increased annually by 0.77% - just 0.13% if metropolitan areas are excluded. The
Great Plains counties in each state, as a group, have increased in population. Annual growth has
ranged from a high of 2.08% in Texas to a low of 0.11% in Oklahoma. Metropolitan areas within
the Great Plains have, on balance, grown annually by 1.59% over this same period. Arapaho
County in Colorado is the fastest-growing metropolitan county at 4.39% annual growth.

The Great Plains population includes a lower proportion of persons over 65 years of age than
does the nation as a whole. Only 11.7% of the Great Plains population is 65 years of age or older,
compared to 13.0% for the nation as a whole. Additionally, young adults in the region have
tended to leave their home communities to seek careers after finishing their education. This is a
trend of long standing.

Though a pattern of population loss does not necessarily mean the demise of rural towns and
communities, there does appear to be a point beyond which it is extraordinarily difficult for them
to rebound, to rebuild their economic vitality and social relevance. For many counties of smaller
population, that demise picks up tempo when population falls below 10,000. Across the Great
Plains, 59% of those counties lost population in the past 10 years. The problem is exacerbated

when, in addition, the natural rate of growth is negative - that is, the number of births is less than
the number of deaths.

Economic Performance of the Rural Great Plains
The economic sustainability of communities in the Great Plains is difficult to predict. Though
not a precise predictor of the future, recent economic performance does provide valuable insight
into the challenge facing the region. Comparing economic indicators for the Great Plains over
the past decade or more with indicators for the nation raises concerns about economic
sustainability in many rural parts of the region.

Table 1. Economic Performance of Great Plains counties, 1980-92 (US benchmark).
                                                             Annual growth rate, 1980 - 92
                                                                     per capita:
                   Share of          No of counties Population      Real Income     Employment
                   population in
 Nonmetro          51.7              375              -0.34             2.11              0.32
    Winners        3.5               12               1.60              2.31              3.39
    Neutral        21.6              221              -0.55             3.43              0.37
    Losers         26.7              142              -0.40             0.22              -0.07

 Farming           13.8              212              -1.14             2.98              -0.34
 Manufacturing     0.9               3                -0.11             058               0.60
 Mining            3.7               16               0.11              0.13              0.31
 Government        7.6               28               0.35              1.11              0.96
 Retirement        1.4               4                0.71              0.61              0.83
 Trade             21.4              94               -0.37             0.93              0.23
 Other             0.2               2                -1.32             1.62              -0.42
 Mixed             2.6               16               1.44              2.08              3.01

 Metro             48.3              21               1.14              0.18              1.74

 All Great         2.7               396              0.34              1.99              0.98

 All US            100.0             3,078            0.96              1.40              1.70

 US nonmetro       22.6                2,359        0.46             1.46             1.24
 US metro          77.4                719          1.11             1.24             1.82
Note: "Winners" are counties with per capita income growth and employment growth above the
U.S. nonmetro average. "Neutral" counties are those with per capita income growth or
employment growth above the U.S. nonmetro average. "Losers" are counties with per capita
income growth and employment growth below the U.S. nonmetro average.
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce.

A useful economic picture of the region comes from examining average annual growth in jobs
and income since 1980. Like the nation and other regions, the Great Plains is subject to economic
cycles that can distort economic performance in any given year. Persistent patterns of
performance become more evident over a decade or more. This section examines growth in
income and jobs for the Great Plains counties from 1982 to 1992, the most recent year for which
county-level data are available. The data follow the Great Plains region that has been defined by
the Great Plains Agriculture Council.

In general, the Great Plains economy has consistently boosted the incomes of its citizens, but it
has had trouble creating new jobs (Table 1). Indeed, much of the income gain appears to come
from dividing up a slowly growing economic pie among relatively fewer residents in the region.
Put another way, per capita income gains are driven more by slowly growing - or even declining
- populations than by robust gains in earnings. Real income grew just 1.3% a year in the Great
Plains region from 1980 to 1992, a full percentage point less than for the nation as a whole. But
per capita income, which takes into account the fact that the Great Plains population is growing
much slower than the rest of the nation, actually grew faster in the Great Plains than in the
United States as a whole. Total employment, meanwhile, grew 1% a year in the Great Plains
from 1980 to 1992, roughly 40% less than for the nation as a whole.

Economic growth is not spread evenly across the region. Many rural places in the Great Plains
have stagnant economies, while most metropolitan places are faring reasonably well. The
region's metro counties enjoyed growth in both jobs and real income of 1.7% a year from 1980 to
1992. Per capita income grew just 0.2% a year after rapid population gains were taken into
account. Rural counties in the Great Plains, on the other hand, had sluggish growth in both real
income (1.0% annually) and jobs (0.3% a year). Income performance was substantially better
when measured in per capita terms (2.1% a year) because rural counties lost population on
average. Thus, fewer people shared an income pie that was growing very slowly.

For rural counties, economic growth has been concentrated among relatively few counties, most
of which are emerging economic hubs. A useful way to benchmark rural counties in the Great
Plains is to compare their economic performance with that of the nation's rural counties. Taken
together, the region's rural counties had much weaker economic growth than elsewhere in rural

America. Jobs grew only one-fourth as fast from 1980 to 1992. Total income also grew slower,
although per capita income grew considerably faster in rural Great Plains counties (2.1%
annually versus 1.5% for rural counties nationwide). That is the result of shrinking population in
the Great Plains rural counties, compared with steady growth in the rest of rural America.

Very few rural counties in the Great Plains have enjoyed above-average economic growth since
1980. In fact, only 12 of the region's 375 rural counties had annual average growth in jobs and
per capita income that exceeded the average for the nation's rural counties (those averages were
1.2% and 1.5%, respectively). Most of these counties were economic trade centers that
essentially borrowed their growth from surrounding communities. By contrast, 142 rural counties
in the Great Plains - more than one-third of all rural counties in the region - had below-average
growth in jobs and per capita income. Most of these poor performers were dependent on farming
or were former retail centers that have given way to bigger trade centers.

In sum, the region's economic performance since 1980 points out both strength and weakness.
Metropolitan areas have enjoyed solid employment growth, creating jobs at a rate roughly equal
to the nation's average. Rural communities, meanwhile, have had much weaker growth. Very few
rural communities in the region have economic growth that exceeds the national average. Those
that do appear to be doing so by becoming dominant economic hubs for broader market regions.
Thus, serious challenges about long-term economic sustainability confront policy makers
concerned with the future of the rural Great Plains.

                               Understanding the Current Terrain
Before discussing the future of the Great Plains, it is useful to review its current state and
inherent limits that will inevitably shape its future.

What is Rural?
On balance, the non-metropolitan areas of the Great Plains may be among the most rural areas of
the nation. Distances are far; population density is low. However, it would be a mistake to
believe this area does not have important interdependencies with areas outside the Great Plains.
Although there are few standard metropolitan statistical areas (SMSA) within the Great Plains,
many have close linkages to the Great Plains. Among those cities are Minneapolis, Omaha,
Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Albuquerque, and Denver. Even more closely affiliated are
Fargo, Des Moines, Sioux Falls, Tulsa, and Colorado's front range urban area from Pueblo to
Fort Collins. These cities are the business, financial, distribution, health care, education, and
cultural leaders with which Great Plains towns and cities affiliate and to which young people go
to seek their future when they leave the Great Plains.

The Great Plains region is economically diverse, perhaps less so than other regions in the United
States, but nonetheless diverse. The economy includes wheat, cattle, oil, coal mining, recreation,
education, manufacturing, and service industry. Hence, the opportunities for development and

employment vary greatly across the region. Employment opportunities in western Kansas or
North Dakota are considerably more limited than they are in Oklahoma or along the Platte River
in Nebraska. Consequently, a sustainable future for the Plains means different outcomes for
different parts of the Plains.

There is a tendency to think of all the Great Plains as singularly dependent on agriculture. It is
true that agriculture is of overriding importance across the Plains. Indeed, North Dakota,
Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas are among those states most dependent on government farm
programs. On occasion, government payments to farmers in those states represent more than
100% of the net farm income earned by farmers growing government program crops. Moreover,
Texas, North Dakota, and Kansas (in that order) are the states with the largest number of acres
retired from crop production into the Conservation Reserve Program, under which farmers are
paid rental on the land to put it into soil-conserving uses and retire it from crop production for 10

But not all counties in the Great Plains are primarily agriculturally dependent. Scattered across
the region, 46% of the counties are predominantly nonagricultural. Manufacturing, mining,
energy, and recreation are among the major activities in non-agriculturally dependent counties
across the Great Plains. Hence, the range of development strategies for the Great Plains states
must be much broader than farm policy strategies. Strategies must focus on adding new value to
the base industries of communities, as well as on developing those manufacturing and business
activities not primarily dependent on location for their success. Finally, a new and broader sense
of community must be fostered and rural development must be viewed from the perspective of
intercommunity cooperation, to create the critical mass needed for self-sustaining growth.

The Scenic Setting Phenomenon
It is more true than ever before that business activity can occur from locations selected by the
owners, rather than from locations in close geographic proximity to firms' customers. This is
especially true for high-value manufacturing and service activities for which geographic location
is not a fundamental economic determinant. Examples are the growth of high-value computer
and computer peripheral manufacturing that has grown up along the front range of the Rocky
Mountains. That in turn has attracted computer software and assorted support businesses.

The primary placement of these businesses is not as random as might at first be assumed,
however. Four factors appear important in determining the development of high technology and
computer-based manufacturing along the front range of the Rockies. First, and very importantly,
high-technology weapons manufacturing and sophisticated military installations in the region
appear to have been a magnet. Secondly, the presence of universities in the region provided
trained professional workers. Third, the region is a magnet for young adults drawn to the
mountains and bringing with them good educations and high-quality work skills. Fourth, the
lifestyle of the region was appealing to the firms' management and workers alike.

Another example of the location phenomenon, although outside of the Great Plains, can be found
in southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas, where the presence of several large lakes
(the result of federal dam construction) and a rural Ozark ambience has stimulated development
of recreation and retirement living. Indeed, the once sleepy Branson, Missouri, now rivals the
Grand Old Opry of Nashville as the home of country/western music.

In short, this development is likely more place-specific than it might at first appear. The
likelihood of duplicating broad computer industry development in the middle of eastern
Colorado and the western Kansas plains is low. Nor is the recreation-based development of the
Ozarks easily replicated in the absence of initial public investment in infrastructure and access to
amenities of location.

In the absence of public policy intervention and investment - and perhaps even with it -
stimulating new development of the type identified here is unlikely to occur.

The Importance of Critical Mass
Two factors are favoring development of midsize cities such as Des Moines, Lincoln, and
Oklahoma City. The complexity and cost of doing many types of business in major metropolitan
centers such as New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago are causing business owners to seek
smaller and less costly locations. Moreover, increasing ease of electronic communication and
control is making it possible to realize business economies in smaller cities. Thus, across the
nation, this decade is treating the fortunes of smaller cities very well.

The second factor is the mirror image of the first. These smaller cities are large enough to have a
critical mass of population, work force, education, transportation, other infrastructure,
commerce, and lifestyle amenities to become magnets for people and businesses moving up from
dying smaller communities. Thus, in the current environment these cities may provide the best of
both worlds for the businesses and their employees.

Technological changes in communication have been extraordinarily important in bringing
smaller cities more fully into the manufacturing, commerce, and services mainstream of
American business life. Fiber optics and satellite up and down links make place a less
constraining factor in choice of business location.

Aggressive marketing by somewhat smaller cities, along with some policy support, has brought a
new array of cities into the development arena. Lawton (Oklahoma), Grand Island (Nebraska),
Sioux Falls (South Dakota), and Fargo (North Dakota) are all cities able to play in this
development game with considerable success.

                                    Strategies for the Future

The changing demographics and lagging economic performance in the Great Plains, especially in
non-metropolitan areas, do present a number of important challenges to the region. These
challenges go to the delivery of public services and to the strategies to be pursued in economic
development. This section discusses both the challenges and the strategies for meeting those
challenges. Opportunities exist as well, perhaps more so now than ever before. These are
addressed as well.

A Sustainable Future in the Absence of Policy Change
In many respects, the pattern of economic activity and development likely in the future is
signaled by the patterns of recent years. These patterns can be characterized as development
around scenic settings, development of towns and cities that have attained a critical mass of
people and activity, large-scale agricultural production units, small communities in long-term
decline, and continued outmigration of young adults from rural areas.

Large-scale agricultural production units. Narrowing profit margins in agriculture have long
been a driving force in farm consolidation. Readily available government subsidy programs,
underwriting producer risk, have also played an important role in supporting firm growth beyond
the size envisioned in Jeffersonian agriculture. Critical mass having been attained in farm
production units, it is often easy to grow even larger. Though there may be relatively limited
production economies of scale beyond the threshold size of commercial agriculture, it is
increasingly apparent that heretofore unrecognized economies of scale exist in input access and
product marketing.

Here, too, technology has been a driving force. Access to large-scale equipment, computerized
control technology, and production systems works to support farm firm expansion. Additionally,
and importantly, improved management skills by firm owners should continue to support farm
firm expansion. Finally, the trend toward contractual arrangements between producers and
processors for livestock and, increasingly, for crops spurs expansion since processors usually
desire to work with fewer but larger and more highly skilled producers.

Thus, in the absence of policy intervention, farm size should continue to grow. The larger and
more successful farms will acquire the land resources of the smaller and less successful farms
through purchase or rental. Most of these farms, if recent experience is a reliable indicator, will
be specialized in production. Extensive environmental law and regulation will also spur
consolidation of farming units. The per animal or per bushel cost of environmental compliance is
typically lower for the large farm than for the small farm.

Larger farms have demonstrated their willingness to access farm inputs from outside their
communities and to sell products to more distant markets, as well. These farm families, enjoying
income levels equal to or in excess of their city cousins, travel great distances for consumer
products, services, and recreation. Country/western and rock concerts in Fargo's new Fargodome
attract attendees from a 200-mile radius. Walmart stores attract customers from a 100-mile

radius. It seems unlikely that this long-term trend will change in favor of local, but small,
communities. Consequently, without public and private policy intervention, towns below some
critical size will be bypassed in favor of larger communities.

Small communities in long-term decline. Current trends do not hold much optimism for small
communities. Those towns of less than 1,000 - 2,000 and located outside a reasonable
commuting distance to a larger city seem destined, as a generalization, to decline in importance
as business centers. That trend is not new. However, the tempo of decline may be picking up.
Towns of under about 500 appear destined for even more rapid decline.

The factors driving this trend are not new. Better highways, more demanding consumer
expectations, scale economies in almost everything a town provides, and a declining population
base from which to attract customers all point to decline toward some irreducible minimum. For
some towns, that means little will be left. For others that are able to create a specialized market
niche, population may stabilize. That specialized market may be as a retirement center, a
recreation center, or a bedroom community for a larger city.

Loss of young people to larger centers. Young people, especially those with good education
and/or specialized training, have always been the most mobile segment of society. In the Great
Plains, the pattern of outmigration of young adults is long-standing. It is unlikely that the pattern
will soon change, except that those who depart are drawn from an increasingly smaller base. But
the familiar pattern of high school graduation followed by a bus ride to the nearest city for
college or job will continue.

That job may be found in a smaller city, possibly one closer to where the person grew up, as
smaller cities enjoy a renascence. Ironically, many of those persons would prefer to find
employment in their home communities. Yet, in most cases, those jobs exist only in larger

In summary, under a public and private regime without new policies or initiatives to change, the
trends identified are likely to continue. Nonetheless, it would be incorrect to assume that those
who remain in rural areas do so at great cost. Despite declines in population, towns, and farm
numbers, real per capita incomes tend to rise in these rural areas, although perhaps not at the
pace of urban America. Moreover, improved communications and innovative means to deliver
public and private services mean that rural America under this scenario will likely become a
more desirable place to live, albeit for fewer people.

Building on Great Plains Agriculture
Even with the emergence of other industries in recent decades, agriculture will remain a vital part
of the Great Plains' economic future. The region produces nearly two-thirds of the nation's
wheat, more than half its beef, a fifth of its corn, a quarter of its cotton, four-fifths of its grain

sorghum, and a sixth of its pork. With abundant endowments of soil and water, the region will
continue to be the nation's breadbasket.

But from the point of view of economic sustainability, the question is not how many bushels of
grain are produced, but how much value is added before this cornucopia of farm products is
shipped to the rest of the nation and the world (Table 2, Table 3, and Figure 2). It is clear that if
the region remains mostly a producer of bulk farm commodities, the number of farms will
continue to shrink, leaving fewer and fewer farm trade centers serving ever-expanding market
regions. This outlook is one of economic decline, if not death, for many small, remote Great
Plains communities.

The alternative is to view the region's abundant herds and harvests as the essential ingredients for
a budding food processing industry in the region. Food processing is the nation's leading
manufacturing industry. But it currently is located mostly in the northeast quarter of the nation,
near major population centers, or in the Sun Belt, where special crops are grown and the
population is growing rapidly (Figure 2). Historically, the Great Plains has been too far from the
nation's major cities to lure much food processing activity. In short, most farm states are not food
states, and most food states are not farm states. Texas and California are notable exceptions to
this generalization.

Can the Great Plains reverse this historical pattern and use its agricultural abundance to fuel
economic growth in Great Plains communities? Pursuing a value-added strategy will not be easy,
and widespread success is by no means assured. Still, the region does have three options to
consider. The first is to enlarge its already large base of meat packing and processing. The
second is to lay the foundations for a grain processing industry in the region. And the third is to
explore new niches for food products or alternative products that might spawn additional
processing opportunities. All three options call for public and private decision makers to
reconsider their approach to economic development policy, funding for food and agricultural
research, and logistical challenges.

Table 2. The importance of farm production in the 50 states, 1989-91 average.
                                         Farm share of gross state product
      Rank               State          Share (percent)         Rank                State          Share (percent)
       1            South Dakota            12.10                26           Georgia                   1.44
       2            Nebraska                 9.63                27           California                1.37
       3            North Dakota             9.33                28           Utah                      1.30
       4            Idaho                    8.05                29           Hawaii                    1.23
       5            Iowa                     6.95                30           Texas                     1.22

         6          Montana                   6.04                31          Tennessee                  1.19

          7           Kansas                     3.82                     32        Maine                        1.18
          8           Arkansas                   3.63                     33        Delaware                     1.13
          9           Minnesota                  3.17                     34        Illinois                     1.10
         10           Kentucky                   2.85                     35        Ohio                         0.96

         11           Wisconsin                  2.84                     36        South Carolina               0.92
         12           Oklahoma                   2.73                     37        Virginia                     0.91
         13           Oregon                     2.55                     38        Michigan                     0.89
         14           Wyoming                    2.52                     39        Louisiana                    0.81
         15           Mississippi                2.19                     40        West Virginia                0.75

         16           North Carolina             2.18                     41        Pennsylvania                 0.69
         17           New Mexico                 2.14                     42        Maryland                     0.58
         18           Alabama                    2.01                     43        Nevada                       0.52
         19           Colorado                   1.91                     44        New Hampshire                0.39
         20           Vermont                    1.89                     45        New York                     0.32

         21           Washington                 1.79                     46        Connecticut                  0.31
         22           Florida                    1.63                     47        Rhode Island                 0.27
         23           Missouri                   1.60                     48        New Jersey                   0.21
         24           Indiana                    1.55                     49        Massachusetts                0.20
         25           Arizona                    1.51                     50        Alaska                       0.07

                                                                                    National                     1.43
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis

Table 3. Population and food processing activity in the major food processing states and the farm states.
                            Population*              Share of US food                 Food processing share of
                                                     processing output**              gross state product**
   Major food       Thousands           Rank           Percent         Rank             Percent          Rank
 California        30895.4          1                13.5             1               1.65             23
 Illinois          11612.9          6                7.19             2               2.47             10
 Pennsylvania      11995.4          5                5.36             3               2.04             16
 Ohio              11021.4          7                5.26             4               2.19             12
 New York          18109.5          2                5.25             5               1.05             36
 Texas             17682.5          3                5.09             6               1.26             31
 New Jersey        7820.3           9                3.84             7               1.73             21

 Wisconsin        4992.7          18              3.72             8    3.47   5
 Michigan         9433.7          8               3.61             9    1.77   19
 Missouri         5190.7          15              3.29             10   2.95   6
 Farm states
 Iowa             2802.9          30              2.85             13   4.88   1
 Minnesota        4468.2          20              2.78             14   2.59   8
 Kentucky         3753.8          24              1.98             18   2.72   7
 Arkansas         2394.3          33              1.78             22   4.26   2
 Nebraska         1600.5          36              1.27             24   3.54   4
 Kansas           2515.3          32              1.17             25   2.12   15
 Idaho            1065.9          42              0.82             31   4.18   3
 South Dakota     708.4           45              0.24             42   1.74   20
 North Dakota     634.0           47              0.19             43   1.50   25
 Montana          822.3           44              0.11             48   0.74   43
* 1992
** 1989-91 average
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis

Figure 2. The leading farm and food processing states. Source: U.S. Department of
Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Enlarging the Great Plains meat industry. A sizable concentration of relatively new packing
plants and a big, growing livestock herd make the meat industry an encouraging bet for adding
more value to Great Plains agriculture in the period ahead. The region already accounts for half
the nation's supply of beef, so there may be limited gains there. Pork may offer the greatest
growth potential, as the industry continues its dramatic restructuring toward large, more
vertically integrated producers.

Although the region's meat prospects are good, the corresponding economic impact may be low.
Wages in the meat packing industry are relatively low. Moreover, the value added in meat
processing is low. The average value added for all food products is 39%; for meat products it is
just 21%. Thus, the region's solid prospects for expanding meat processing are unlikely to
provide a widespread economic tide for Great Plains communities.

The Great Plains appears likely to retain its dominant hold on the nation's beef industry. The
nation's largest, most efficient beef packing plants are found in the region. Supporting those
plants are a concentration of commercial feed yards and a considerable beef cow herd that uses
the region's extensive rangeland. The one resource that might limit further development of the
region's beef industry appears to be water.

Water is essential to producing the feedstuffs that supply cattle feedlots. Water is also important
to the meat packing process itself. Overriding both of these considerations may be the effect of
concentrated livestock production on the quality of local water supplies. Water quality almost
certainly will become a bigger factor for many communities in the Great Plains. Still, the great
amount of wide open space in the Great Plains seems likely to provide ample room for continued
expansion of the livestock industry.

The pork industry may follow the beef industry to the Great Plains. More than any other single
segment of U.S. agriculture, pork production is undergoing a dramatic restructuring. Pork
production is rapidly moving to producers who have three key characteristics: large scale, access
to leading-edge genetics, and marketing contracts with processors. These commercial producers
are locating in places with a welcoming business climate and substantial capacity to absorb
animal waste. Many communities in the Great Plains welcome the new pork industry with open
arms and have substantial environmental capacity. Thus, it is not surprising to see pork
production moving away from its traditional home in the Corn Belt into states such as Oklahoma,
Colorado, and Wyoming, states where pork has never before been a mainstay.

The key to further pork development in the region will depend critically on state laws on
corporate farming. Some states in the region, including North Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska,
have laws that prohibit corporate ownership of farm enterprises, including pork production.
Given the scale of the new pork industry, such laws will serve to push pork production to other
states. Thus, if current laws continue, the Great Plains might resemble a checkerboard of pork
production, with large concentrations in some states and little production in others.

Building a grain processing industry. The Great Plains produces huge amounts of grain, but
most is exported to the rest of the nation or overseas. Thus, there is naturally a great deal of
interest in building a bigger grain processing base in the region. The economic gains would be
big. The value added in selected grain processing is among the highest of all food processing
industries. But because these same industries are capital-intensive, they are dominated by a
handful of large companies with well-established brand names. Thus, grain processing offers
substantial potential but is difficult for new firms to penetrate.

Given the nature of the industry, states and communities in the Great Plains appear to have
limited options. They might choose to seek branch plants of major food companies. Experience
has shown that this is a costly, difficult approach to economic development. Firms would
probably seek substantial concessions to offset the remote location of the Great Plains.

Another option would be to make new investments in transportation and packaging technology,
aimed at offsetting the region's distance from population centers. The cost of shipping grain from
the region to distant processing plants is relatively low; the cost of shipping processed products,
on the other hand, is high. New technologies, related either to shipping or product shelf-life and
freshness, might help to close that cost differential. Prospects for substantial progress, however,
are uncertain.

Exploring new agricultural niches. The third option is to explore new niches for processed
foods and alternative products. These niches are not well defined and will involve creative
ventures that will naturally involve some risk. Given the economic outlook for the region, some
of these risks may be worth exploring, especially if the risk can be shared between the public and
private sectors.

In the past, the Great Plains region has produced a traditional set of crops well adapted to its soil
and climate. In the future, with economic sustainability a key concern, the region may want to
turn to a different set of crops. For instance, there may be parts of the region that, if water
supplies were sufficient, might have the soil and climate to grow fruits and vegetables for several
months out of the year. Costs of production might be substantially less than in coastal states such
as California. As in grain processing, however, entry may be hampered by a strong industry
concentration among a few firms located in a few states. For example, nearly 60% of the nation's
employment in the frozen fruits and vegetables industry and more than 80% of employment in
the dehydrated fruits and vegetables industry are located in just four states.

The region may also want to make some investments in alternative crops that might be used for
either food or industrial uses. Such basic research has longer odds of success. Most states will
want to pursue meat and grain processing opportunities first. Research on new crops is a good
candidate for regional cooperation. By sharing the costs and the risks, states in the region can
hold another development option open while limiting the expense of the investment.

Building on Information Age Opportunities
The new information age technology offers substantial opportunity for both business
development and provision of public services in the Great Plains. It also presents an imminent
danger. We will focus first on the opportunities.

Development opportunities. Business expansion opportunities in the Great Plains are scarce.
Sparse population and outmigration often leave businesses with small and/or declining markets.
Local consumers offer limited opportunity for businesses to expand sales. There will be some
opportunity to expand business through value-added processing of raw materials available in the
region, such as agricultural products and minerals. This will provide additional employment and
income in the communities where plants are sited. However, there will not be many locations
because of the generally large volume of the raw product necessary for plants to run efficiently.

The new information age technology has the potential to expand business opportunities. First, it
greatly reduces cost and improves access to markets and market information from outside of the
region. Second, working with the secular movement toward a service-based economy, some
businesses, particularly those that depend on an effective communications system, have been
freed from their traditional locations and may select a location in the Great Plains.

The market expansion potential of the new telecommunications technology is substantial. An
increasing volume of goods and services is being marketed over the communications networks,
but the total potential is far from being exploited. Computer networks allow a business person in
any location to offer products, explore business opportunities, and gain critical trade information
from within the United States and around the world. A business person can explore this network
from any location with access to the network. Government procurement programs targeted to
smaller businesses are prime candidates for this technology.

The information highway contains information about the goods and services available for sale or
wanted and (often) the peculiarities of the market. International markets in particular require
special technical expertise. The novice can exchange information with other business people who
have operated successfully in the desired market. The information highway will not answer all
questions, but it can be an idea generator and help narrow the search for markets and information
before expensive on-site visits are made.

Not only can the information highway provide better access to markets and information, it has
also freed many firms to locate in nontraditional areas. The last decade has brought a rapidly
changing face to business transactions in the United States and the rest of the world. Large
corporate entities have begun a process of downsizing and decentralization with extensive
layoffs or early retirement buy-outs for many of their long-term employees. Many corporations
are encouraging "virtual office space" for their executives, which allows them to provide

leadership from off-site locations. Over the last decade, technological advances made in
information and technology transfer have lowered the transaction costs of business start-up.
Many of these former employees are discovering that the lowered transaction costs and
technology advancements are providing opportunities for non-location-specific small diversified
corporations that can better compete in the world economy.

Many large business firms are now locating business functions at locations remote from their
main offices. In the first round of this activity, telemarketing, data processing, and certain
accounting and financial functions are being remotely located. In subsequent rounds it is likely
that some manufacturing, marketing, computer services, and additional financial services may be
located remote from headquarter sites.

These remote locations appear likely to gravitate first to smaller cities with populations in the
50,000 - 150,000 size range. Cities of this size typically provide communications infrastructure,
access to a labor pool, and desired lifestyle amenities for employees. It is reasonable to expect
even smaller cities to benefit from this trend as well in subsequent rounds of business relocation.

Very small towns are not likely to prove very attractive to outside firms and will likely find their
future in homegrown businesses and in serving satellite support functions for larger
communities. Some small towns have done very well as bedroom communities for adjacent
cities. Additionally, as discussed earlier, locational amenities will continue to play an important
role in the growth of smaller cities and small towns. If a city doesn't have mountains or lakes
nearby, it should hope for a river or a historic site.

Several Great Plains cities and larger towns have an underused advantage in the job competition
arena. Their telephone and electric power transmission systems have been augmented to meet the
needs of military installations such as air bases, radar stations, and missile installations. Those
infrastructure upgrades can be very important advantages as communities compete for jobs in the
information age.

In addition to expanding marketing and location considerations, the information highway can
provide business services, technical assistance, and training. Businesses in major metropolitan
centers are accustomed to having a wide variety of business services within easy reach.
Businesses in less populated areas are faced with providing their own legal and accounting
services, operational and financial management services, personnel services, and so forth.
Computer networks can provide access to the top business schools and service providers around
the world. Provision of these services and market information is in its infancy. A fraction of what
could be offered is currently available. The information highway is far from friendly at this
point. Significant investment in skill development is required to effectively access the system.
The cost of accessing the system can be high and the response time slow if a local fiber optics
line is not available. However, these barriers are being torn down. The new technology may

create a change in the way business is conducted that is similar in scope to the revolutions
created by the rail and highway systems.

Challenges to address. Where it once was more important to provide capital infrastructure
improvements such as major traffic thoroughfares, bridges, rail transportation, and so forth, it is
now important that capital infrastructure improvements focus on the ability to have reliable,
instant communications transfer to worldwide markets. This business paradigm shift will likely
affect regrowth in the Great Plains region as more businesses discover that they can operate from
a physical location that is of their choosing rather than from a location that is determined by
transportation arteries. U.S. businesses are just now discovering the extent to which the
information highway will expand their location alternatives.

Although telecommunications technology will create the potential, actual regrowth will depend
on several factors: First, the area will need to be connected to the new technology. Being left off
the line could result in greater isolation than was true before the new technology was developed.
Second, the area will need to possess other attributes that will attract businesses. Businesses
being footloose will be of little consequence if locations within the Great Plains are not
attractive. And finally, local business people will need to accept and use the new technology to
capture some of its market expansion possibilities. The biggest impediment to using the new
technology may be a cultural predisposition not to embrace it. The danger of this emerging
technology is that those who do not access it will be more disadvantaged than before the
technology became available.

In addition to communications infrastructure, a renewed policy commitment to traditional
infrastructure development is imperative because most of the Great Plains region is a
production-based economy. Transportation remains a vital link in the economic chain for
commodity and manufactured goods. For the Great Plains region it will be critical that economic
development policies continue to focus on the need for adequate rail, truck, and air transportation
at the same time that communications technology also is expanded.

Finally, it is important to remember that economic development brings new ideas and more
culturally and racially diverse communities. Economic development upsets the status quo and the
local power structure. Not all communities are comfortable with that prospect. Those that are not
will typically be viewed as less desirable places to locate a new business. Those communities
that embrace change will create a more receptive environment for economic growth. They will
be rewarded by growth in jobs and income, and a more dynamic, interesting community in which
to live.

The Great Plains was, and continues to be, a region in transition toward the future. The region's
progress has lagged that of the rest of the nation in many ways. That has been particularly true

for the region's non-metropolitan areas. We have argued that this is the result, in part, of the
insularity of the people as well as the natural impediments of distance and sparsity of population.

We have laid out, in our discussion, three possible scenarios for sustainable growth into the
future. The first scenario is the most austere, and requires no change in policy.

The second scenario stresses the potential for adding value to the region's agricultural production
as a means of adding jobs and income. That will require more indigenous leadership and
investment than the region has heretofore demonstrated. However, the strategy has significant
promise. Even if successful, it is unlikely that the growth impact would spread evenly across the
region. Instead, growth would likely be enhanced principally around those cities and towns that
have shown growth in the past decade.

The third scenario is the most intriguing. Vastly improved communication and footloose
business functions could result in substantial job and income growth across the Great Plains.
However, the attractiveness of agglomeration in and around growth centers would still be
difficult to overcome. More importantly, this third scenario - and for that matter, the second
scenario as well - will not occur without creative public- and private-sector partnering in
infrastructure, education/training, and equity investments across the Great Plains.

Current evidence strongly suggests that economic development occurs most frequently and most
successfully where private sector firms partner with each other, and with public institutions and
governments, in doing the many things necessary to make business growth happen successfully.
Great Plains people and their public/private institutions must act on the strength of this evidence
if these more intriguing and optimistic scenarios for a sustainable future in the Great Plains are to
be realized.

About the Authors
Dr. Marvin Duncan is a professor of agricultural economics at North Dakota State University
(NDSU). Before joining the NDSU faculty, Dr. Duncan was a presidentially appointed member
of the board of the Farm Credit Administration and, earlier, a vice president and economist at the
Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He researches and writes on agricultural and rural policy
and rural financial and credit markets.

Dr. Dennis Fisher is a professor of agricultural economics and an economist with the Texas
Agricultural Extension Service at Texas A & M University. He directs the rural policy program
within the Economic Development Program Unit of the Extension Service. Dr. Fisher plans and
conducts rural policy workshops on the national and state levels, and he has advised many state
task forces and legislative committees. Before joining the Texas A & M University system, he
was on the faculty at Cornell University, Oregon State University, and Michigan State
University. Dr. Fisher also has consulted extensively with government, retail, service, and

manufacturing firms throughout the United States and advises them on economic development,
market analysis, and other business and economic areas.

Dr. Mark Drabenstott is vice president and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas
City. He is responsible for overseeing the bank's research on the seven-state Tenth Federal
Reserve District. Dr. Drabenstott has spoken to audiences across the nation on agriculture, rural
America, and public policy. He is the author of numerous articles and books on such topics as
farm policy, agricultural trade, rural and economic development, and the food industry. Dr.
Drabenstott is chairman of the National Planning Association's Food and Agriculture Committee
and a director of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Implications of Global Environmental Change

Barry Smit

The sustainability implications of global environmental change cover many dimensions and
sectors. This chapter focuses on the agricultural sector. It is not based on detailed analyses of the
Great Plains; rather, it draws on general material that is related to sustainability in the Great
Plains. Implications of environmental change are shown to extend beyond production impacts
and are intimately related to economics and public policy.

                                     Sustainable Agriculture
Definitions of sustainability are often controversial. In terms of agriculture, sustainability has
many meanings (Smit and Smithers, 1993; 1994). But most definitions are fundamentally
similar. Consider two representative definitions of sustainable agriculture:

Agri-food systems that are economically viable, meet society's need for safe and nutritious foods,
while conserving . . . natural resources and the quality of the environment for future generations.
                                                                - Science Council of Canada (1992)

Agricultural system that can indefinitely meet demands for food and fibre at socially acceptable
economic and environmental costs.
                                                                                    - Crosson (1992)

These definitions suggest that sustainability implies (1) meeting human needs for food and fiber,
(2) conserving environment or natural resources, and (3) maintaining economic viability.

The terms future generations and indefinitely indicate the long time-frame over which these
attributes apply.

                                Forces Influencing Sustainability
Many forces influence the structure of agricultural systems and the degree to which they are
sustainable. Figure 1 highlights three important categories of external force: biophysical
environment, government policies and programs, and macroeconomic conditions. Individual
farm operators make their decisions on what to produce and how to produce it in light of these
external forces.

Figure 1. Forces influencing sustainability in agriculture

Each of these macroscale forces can change over the long term. Each of them also varies from
year to year, and does so in a largely unpredictable fashion. At the time farmers make their
strategic decisions, they do not know with certainty the climatic conditions, prices and costs,
government programs, and so forth that will affect farm production and economic returns. The

economic returns from farm production are dependent on physical yields and on prices and
government payments such as price supports, drought relief, and so on. It is these economic
effects, especially when cumulated over time, that are the most likely to cause change in
agricultural systems. Of course, there are numerous feedbacks, such as those between
environmental conditions, economic outcomes, and government programs. For example,
widespread losses due to drought often prompt changes in government programs, which in turn
influence the economics of farming. The implications of global environmental changes therefore
need to be considered relative to economic and policy conditions.

                                Climatic Variation and Change
One important environmental force is climate, which can change over the long term and whose
variation (with or without climatic change) has major implications for farming and sustainability.
Agriculture's sensitivity to climate is influenced both by the nature of climatic variation and by
the nature of farming (see Figure 2).

Climate usually refers to relatively long-term average conditions or "norms." Climatic variability
refers to deviations in conditions from year to year (Figure 2). This variability can be
characterized in several ways, including probability distributions, frequency or magnitude of
extreme events, or the return period of extreme events (Smit, 1993). Extremes therefore represent
isolated features of climatic variability (Figure 2). Climatic change usually refers to shifts in
climatic norms, and may also involve changes in the magnitude or frequency of extremes, or
other aspects of variability.

Figure 2. Climate, variability, extremes and coping range

Farmers are influenced by all of these variations (Smit et al., 1995). The variations that we hear
most about, and that directly impinge on sustainability, are those "causing" losses, damages, and
disasters. Yet the cause is as much the nature of farming as it is the climatic event. Farming, like
other activities, has evolved to operate within a limited range of conditions, sometimes called a
"coping range" (Figure 2). This represents the range of conditions within which the activity can
function reasonably, and beyond which it is vulnerable. Disasters are "caused" by the
juxtaposition of a vulnerable activity and particular climatic conditions.

Numerous studies have explored the implications of global climatic change for agriculture. One
of the most comprehensive recent analyses is the MINK study, which relates to the Great Plains
region. This study considered climatic change and variability as well as changes in other
conditions and possible adjustments in farming practices (Easterling et al., 1993; Rosenberg et
al., 1993). It illustrated the potential for agricultural production systems in the Great Plains to
adapt to a changed climatic regime. The MINK study did not focus on either the likelihood of
adjustments in farming practices or the role of government programs in stimulating or
dampening such adjustments.

                      Role of Government Compensation and Adaptation
The degree to which agricultural systems adjust to reduce vulnerability to climatic variations
(and hence to climatic change) is influenced by government programs. Economic returns to
farmers, especially in years of climatic extremes, are moderated by various forms of government
compensation, subsidy, and assistance. These include payments resulting from established
programs such as crop insurance, as well as ad hoc payments such as disaster relief.

These programs originated with the best of intentions, to provide some economic and social
security (sustainability?) to people in the rural economy. The programs involve large amounts of
money and have significant effects on farming practices and the economics of farming. Canadian
federal government payments to farmers for losses directly related to climate (drought and flood
assistance, crop insurance subsidy, emergency compensation, and so forth) are estimated in
excess of Can$250 million per year during recent decades (Smit, 1994). Indirect payments and
provincial contributions are not included in this total. At a societal scale, these programs
represent an adaptive response to risks associated with climatic variability. At the farm level,
however, they now tend to serve as a disincentive to adaptation and sustainability.

To illustrate, consider the 1987ñ88 drought in the Great Plains. In Canada, two programs
(WGSA and SCGP) provided direct income support (Can$2.2 billion) to farmers. An evaluation
by the Economic Council of Canada (1988) concluded:

       Without this assistance, half of the farmers in the [Canadian] Prairie region would have
       been in some financial difficulty. . . . this ad hoc policy formulation, while
       understandable in political terms, reduces farmers' incentives to make long-term
       management decisions and to assume their consequences.

The situation is similar in the United States and elsewhere. Government policies and programs
have been devised to absorb or mitigate the impacts of climate stresses, including programs for
crop insurance, disaster grants and low-interest loans to farmers, and government-sponsored
drought research. The cost of drought relief for the 1988 drought in the United States was about
US$4.0 billion (Riebsame, 1991).

Although payments on the scale of the 1987ñ88 drought are not annual events, subsidies related
to variable environmental conditions are large and ongoing. The 1992ñ93 drought, for example,
was in many ways comparable to the 1987ñ88 event, and it involved large payouts in Canada. It
is often said that farmers are better adapted to subsidy programs than to the biophysical
environment. The current structure of support programs effectively discourages farming
adjustments to climatic variability. It tends to perpetuate a system of agriculture that essentially
guarantees future crop losses, hardship to farm families and communities, depletion of soil
resources, and continued draining of public funds.

This situation is hardly sustainable. We need to assess programs that were intended to serve
important social goals, in light of their other implications. Ironically, many attributes of the
"farm problem" that originally prompted government programs are now persistent and perhaps
perpetuated by those programs: market instability, low returns on capital, falling farm incomes,
environmental degradation or depletion, and farm failure (Goodman, 1991).

                                 Deregulation and Implications
Regardless of how government subsidy programs are evaluated, they are likely to change
significantly in the near future. International agreements under the General Agreement on Tariffs
and Trade (GATT) and the recently concluded Uruguay Round promote the dismantling of
subsidy and compensation programs. This trend to deregulation is reinforced by the growing
fiscal conservatism in the United States and Canada and is evident in the (1995) Canadian budget
cuts to the Western Grain Transportation and other programs.

With contraction of government supports, farmers will have to bear a greater share of the risks
associated with variations in climatic and other conditions. They will likely have to extend their
"coping range." They will have to recognize more explicitly the reality of climatic variability and
factor it into their production decisions.

The literature on agroecosystem health (see, for example, Rapport, 1989; and Waltner-Toews,
1994) points to instability in output and dependence on external subsidy as important generic
indicators of system pathology as nonsustainability. In Great Plains agriculture, there is
instability in output and dependence on subsidy. Others point to heavy reliance on, and
threatened depletion of, water resources as evidence of nonsustainability in the current system.

It would seem that the questionable sustainability of the current system relates to expectations
regarding the capacity of the resource base to produce - expectations that cannot be met every
year. Why is much of the Great Plains region called "next-year country"? Sustainability likely
requires a shift in mind set, so that decisions on product choice, inputs, and resource use are not
based on expectations of a "good" year, or even a "normal" year, but on the reality of the
variability - and hence probability - of environmental conditions. This probably implies, for
some regions, a reduction in intensity and production levels (at least from levels attainable in
"good" years). This has happened before. I am a child of a family forced from a prairie farm by a
combination of droughts and economic conditions in the 1930s. We now have the option of
managing an orderly adjustment to a more sustainable system or allowing the changes to occur
via repeated stresses and crises.

Recent experience in New Zealand, where farm income attributable to subsidies dropped from
35% (1983) to 2% (1990), is instructive if not conclusive. Although this major policy shift has
had significant ramifications, the rural economy has not collapsed. After a few years of
adjustment, farm operations are now better adapted to climatic variations and extremes. Among
the common adaptations are abandonment of risky crops, reductions in stock numbers and

inputs, diversification, and growth of private insurance where risks warrant. There has also been
a growth in demand for climate information, particularly on the frequency (and hence the
probability) of climate-related hazards.

                                Climate Change and Implications
What of the implications of global climate change? First, it will be marked not by some sudden
change in conditions every year, but by changes in the frequency and magnitude of climatic
variations. The changes will be (are?) essentially imperceptible within periods of less than
numerous decades, because they are contained within the ongoing interannual variability of
climatic regimes (Figure 2). So, planning for sustainability with respect to variability in
conditions will also enhance prospects for sustainability with respect to climatic change.

Second, the effects of climatic change are difficult, if not impossible, to usefully assess
independently of other forces and independently of an improved understanding of adaptation,
especially the conditions that tend to promote or constrain adaptation. The MINK study
illustrated that depending on the assumptions made about other conditions and adaptation,
climate change may or may not represent a problem - given current production systems. What
does this mean if current production systems are judged to be nonsustainable?

Two main recommendations can be made for scientists and policy makers.
1. We need to better assess risks associated with variable and uncertain environmental
   conditions. This likely would involve documentation of climatic variation (temporal and
   spatial) so that probabilities of climatic conditions can be better estimated. This is different
   from mapping "normal" conditions, and it should focus on those climatic variables that are
   pertinent (for example, moisture during critical time periods) rather than readily available
   (such as mean annual temperature).

This assessment of risks should include consideration of variation in other relevant external
forces, including economic and policy considerations. What sorts of variation have been
experienced in these areas in the past, what was the response in agricultural resource use, and
what type of variation will likely occur in the future?

2. We need to develop and promote enterprises and management practices that are adaptive and
sustainable in this kind of variable and uncertain environment. Evaluations of existing and
potential production systems according to their ability to sustain production and economic
returns would help address this need. So too would the consideration of policy vehicles (i.e.,
alternatives to the set of policies likely to be withdrawn) that might promote more sustainability.

It may be noteworthy that I have not placed high emphasis on climate change prediction or
seasonal climate forecasting. These activities are valuable and will continue to be addressed.
They represent a way of reducing uncertainties and managing risk. But much of the sustainability
problem in the existing system derives from a widespread view of climate: that it is predictable
and that we should plan for certain (rather than uncertain) conditions (usually the norm or ìgoodî
climatic conditions). Sustainability will be enhanced more if resource use decisions recognize the
variability and uncertainty that is inherent in climate.

The author wishes to thank the following organizations and agencies for their support: Canadian
Climate Program; Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada; Ontario Ministry
of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Agroecosystem Health Project of the Eco-Research
Program of the Tri-Council of Canada; and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin Project of
Environment Canada.

Crosson, P. 1992. Sustainable agriculture. Resources 106:14-17.
Easterling, W.; P. Crosson; N. Rosenberg; M. McKenney; L. Katz; and K. Lemon. 1993.
Agricultural impacts of and responses to climate change in the Missouri-Iowa-Nebraska-Kansas
region. Climatic Change 21:23-62.
Economic Council of Canada. 1988. Handling the Risks: A Report on the Prairie Grain
Economy. Economic Council of Canada, Ottawa.
Goodman, D. 1991. Some recent tendencies in the industrial re-organization of the Agri-Food
system. In W. Friedland, L. Busch, F. Buttel, and A. Rudy, eds. Toward a New Political
Economy of Agriculture; pp. 37-64. Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado.
Rapport, D. 1989. What constitutes ecosystem health? Perspectives in Biology and Medicine
Riebsame, W. E.; S. A. Changnon, Jr.; and T. R. Karl. 1991. Drought and Natural Resources
Management in the United States: Impacts and Implications of the 1987-89 Drought; p. 56.
Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado.
Rosenberg, N.; P. Crosson; K. Frederick; W. Easterling; M. McKenney; M. Bowes; R. Sedjo; J.
Darmstadler; L. Katz; and K. Lemon. 1993. The MINK Methodology: Background and baseline.
Climatic Change 24:7-22.
Science Council of Canada. 1992. Sustainable Agriculture: The Research Challenge. Science
Council of Canada, Ottawa.
Smit, B., ed. 1993. Adaptation to Climatic Variability and Change: Report of the Task Force on
Climate Adaptation. Canadian Climate Program, University of Guelph, Ontario.
Smit, B. 1994. Climate compensation and agriculture. In J. McCulloch and D. Etkin, eds.
Improving Responses to Atmospheric Extremes: The Role of Insurance and Compensation; pp.
29-37. The Climate Institute, Toronto.

Smit, B.; D. McNabb; and J. Smithers. 1995. Farming Adaptation to Climate Variation. Report
for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin Project. Guelph, Ontario.
Smit, B.; and J. Smithers. 1993. Sustainable agriculture: Interpretations analyses and prospects.
Canadian Journal of Regional Science 16:499-524.
Smit, B.; and J. Smithers. 1994. Sustainable agriculture and agroecosystem health. In O. Nielsen,
ed. Agroecosystem Health; pp. 31-38. University of Guelph, Ontario.
Waltner-Toews, D. 1994. Ecosystem health: A framework for implementing sustainability in
agriculture. In O. Nielsen, ed. Agroecosystem Health; pp. 8-23. University of Guelph, Ontario.

About the Author
Dr. Barry Smit is a professor of geography at the University of Guelph in Ontario. He is the chair
of the Socio-Economic Impacts Committee of the Canadian Climate Program and a member of
the Scientific Advisory Committee to UNEP on the World Climate Impacts and Response
Strategies Program. Dr. Smit is the author of more than 60 scientific articles on topics including
sustainable agriculture, global environmental change, cumulative effects, and adaptation to
climatic variations and uncertainty.

Policies for Sustainable Development

Harry Hill and Jill Vaisey

This chapter discusses issues, strategies, and approaches to sustainable development in Canada.
It focuses on government roles in fostering environmentally safe economic growth, with an
emphasis on the northern Great Plains region of Canada (Figure 1).

Sustainable development is more than just environmental sustainability. It requires the ability to
adapt to changing circumstances. For the agriculture and agri-food sector, sustainable
development requires the integration of economic, social, and environmental considerations as a
key to maintaining basic living standards, protecting ecosystems, and securing a prosperous

Food production, processing, and distribution in Canada provide us not only with food but also
with significant wealth. Although the agriculture and agri-food sector provides one of the
essentials of life, it can also dramatically alter the landscape and thus the ability to meet future
needs. As a result, sustainable practices within the agriculture and agri-food sector are essential
ingredients of sustainable development and viable rural areas.

Figure 1. The Canadian prairie provinces

                                  The Continuum of Change
The Canadian prairies were settled with a focus on supplying primary products for eastern
(domestic) and export markets. The area has always been affected by changes in markets,
consumer preferences, and technologies. Rural demographics, farm production and rural income
sources, significant natural variability in climate, research and technology transfer systems and
other institutions, and intergenerational transfer also have an effect on the Canadian prairies.

The government and the agricultural sector work together to address threats to a secure and
sustainable agriculture. With the Crow's Nest Pass agreement of 1897, the federal government
began a long relationship with western farmers that encouraged east-west rail traffic and the bulk
production of grain. Other policies like acreage quotas, production-based subsidies, crop
insurance, and other subsidies have buffered the producers from swings in markets and reduced
production caused by droughts. Significant actions with more of an environmental focus include
the creation of Dominion Experimental Farms in the 1880s to develop new farming technology
and transfer this information to the farm population, the soil survey initiated in 1914 to enable
rational land planning, and the establishment of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration
in 1935 to help with economic security in regions affected by drought and soil drifting. Such
initiatives helped producers to deal with the specific issues of the day and move to greater

In the early years of prairie agriculture, most farms were mixed operations. The trend shifted to
more grains monoculture and is now moving toward specialized farms in diversified regions.
There is also significant diversification into pulses, horticulture, and vegetables. Farm income,
originally coming mostly from the production and sale of bulk products, primarily for export,
now includes significant off-farm income.

Research and technology transfer systems are expanding beyond traditional programs. Although
work continues on developing new crop varieties and improving drought and insect resistance,
researchers are also working on knowledge-based innovations. For example, there is increasing
interest in technological opportunities in areas such as biotechnology, new uses (such as canola
for feed or industrial oil), and uses for chemical constituents within agricultural products.

Intergenerational transfer has become more difficult as farm capital needs increase and farmers'
knowledge needs expand to include new marketing choices and a new global policy
environment. These problems are accentuated by youth migration to urban centers for education
and employment.

Although advances have been made in the technology of sustainable farming, many rural
communities have been shrinking. People have moved from rural to urban/industrial
communities, driven by shifts from intensive labor production to mechanization and economies
of scale. Similar labor adjustments are occurring in industrial sectors today. Some rural
communities will not continue. Others need a renewed sense of leadership and entrepreneurial

Social infrastructure in the Canadian prairies originally focused on trading circles, developed
along routes involving convenient traveling times of 1-2 hours. The distances have changed with
the replacement of horses and buggies by trains, cars, and now airplanes. Dr. Jack Stabler from
the University of Saskatchewan has shown that community survival is strongly influenced by
characteristics like trading circles and manufacturing jobs (Table 1).

Change is clearly a fact of life. The ability to adapt to change is critical for sustainable
development, whether the change is driven by markets, physical factors such as climate
variability, or social factors.

Table 1. Summary descriptions of functional classification of prairie communities, 1961
and 1981.
                                       1961                                                1981
                         Population                  Business                Population                Business

                No. of  Mean        SD1       Mean      SD        No. of    Mean      SD          Mean   SD
                Centers                                           Center
 Partial     26           700       180       36.3      8.3       12        888       156         42.6   9.3
 Full        63           364       169       17.1      4.9       49        514       219         20.7   6.8
 Minimum     130          144       83        4.8       3.3       158       144       124         5.0    4.1

 Partial     88           607       174       28.2      6.6       38        963       242         32.7   8.9
 Full        179          302       107       15.2      3.9       130       453       183         14.6   4.8
 Minimum     282          122       58        5.1       2.8       381       112       95          3.1    2.8

 Partial     35           650       167       38.9      6.2       28        1,124     484         49.7   17.6
 Full        77           326       130       21.4      5.7       56        500       280         21.2   9.6
 Minimum     147          121       79        5.9       3.7       175       140       124         5.1    4.3
Source: Stabler, J.C.; M.R. Olfert; and A. Ulrich. 1992. Prairie Rural Development in the 1990s;
Adjustments, Constraints, Opportunities; p. 34. Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration,
Regina, Saskatchewan.

                                   Factors Driving Change
A number of issues and drivers for change have emerged since the late 1980s.
      Canada has signed several international agreements on trade (for example, the North
       American Free Trade Agreement and World Trade Organization agreements) and
       environmental issues (such as biodiversity and climate change). The agriculture and
       agri-food sector is striving to meet ensuing obligations while seizing any opportunities
       that may arise.
      Markets continue to change. A new approach that the agriculture and agri-food sector is
       taking is producing to meet special needs of particular clients rather than producing only
       one standard graded product.

       The environment and its protection continues to be an issue with the public in Canada
        and elsewhere. Public perception, frequently coupled with limited understanding of
        modern agricultural and agri-food practices, is a major challenge and concern to
        producers, processors, retailers, and food service operators.
       Internationally, a trend toward "green" consumerism and more environmentally friendly
        products creates marketing issues and opportunities that the agriculture and agri-food
        sector must address as they compete within an increasingly integrated world economy.
       Government fiscal restraint is a reality, resulting in a rebalancing of expenditures away
        from income support and subsidies (Table 2). The agriculture and agri-food sector is
        looking for innovative ways to ensure economic viability and continued environmental
        sustainability. Increasing interest in value-added processing, nontraditional agricultural
        activities such as agroforestry and aquaculture, and industrial uses for traditional
        agricultural products provide challenges to the sector and government in facilitating
        adaptation and adjustment.

Table 2. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada resource summary (in millions).
        Priority                  1994-95                   1997-98               %
        Trade and                 $115.4                    $104.1                -10
        Supply                    $217.2                    $159.6                -27
        Farm Income               $269.5                    $239.2                -11
        Inspection                $853.6                    $600.0                -30
        Adaptation                $362.7                    $313.6                -14
        Other                     $184.4                    $221.2                -35
        Total                     $2,117.4                   $74.3
       Agricultural support mechanisms are changing. The removal of the Western Grain
        Transportation subsidy, which evolved from the Crow's Nest Pass agreement, will cause
        significant changes in many parts of western Canada (Figure 2). Although it is expected
        that the removal of the incentive to produce export grains will be positive in the long
        term, farmers will have to make significant adjustments in the short term to maintain their
        economic viability.

Figure 2. Western grain transportation support

Greater integration among the primary production, processing, and retail components within the
agriculture and agri-food sector makes it important that all components work together to meet the
challenges of sustainable development. Agriculture is also an important element of the rural
economy in most of the rural prairies, requiring an integration of agricultural and rural

                    Progress and Responses for Sustainable Development
Increasingly, the agriculture and agri-food sector will need help adapting and adjusting to all of
the changing circumstances it faces. Any initiatives taken must be consistent with the principles
of sustainable development. At Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, existing resources are being
redirected to help manage change. Some funds are being reallocated from previous transportation
assistance. Other resources may be allocated for development and diversification from
revitalized safety net programs. In addition, Canada's recent budget announced that some
resources will be made available to meet a wide range of development needs across the nation.

Environmental sustainability is a high priority in Canada. Recognizing this, the federal and
provincial governments are working with agriculture and agri-food stakeholders to develop a
new environment strategy for the sector. This strategy is expected to be flexible enough to adapt
to changing conditions in the future.

The federal government is looking at new approaches to encourage sustainable development and
to respond to reduced fiscal capability and changing perceptions. The Task Force on Economic
Instruments and Disincentives to Sound Environmental Practices has outlined some options that

must be examined and tested for applicability in agriculture and agri-food. The government is
also developing a framework for sustainable development.

Overall, the agriculture sector has recently made great strides in incorporating environmental
considerations into management practices. Partnerships involving local organizations, agriculture
and agri-food sector organizations, and government (federal, provincial, and municipal) have
been essential tools in this process.

A much better understanding exists of the linkages between agriculture and issues such as
wildlife, water quality, and waste management. There is increased recognition of the complexity
of sustainable development issues and the need for more holistic approaches to these issues.

Primary Producer Responses
Agricultural lands are managed by individual producers. Canada has 280,000 farm enterprises
covering 167.4 million acres of land. Each enterprise is managed to meet individual operator
objectives. However, the mix of environmental and economic risk in managing different types of
land is being more fully recognized (Figure 3). Broader environmental objectives are being
incorporated into the set of agricultural production and resource management objectives.

Figure 3. Agricultural land use issues. Proportion of prairie agriculture land base (136 m.

Producers have adopted practices that make economic sense while increasing their
environmental sustainability (such as shelterbelts, grassed waterways, reduced tillage, and

multiple-use reservoirs). The opportunities for maintaining wildlife on agricultural lands have
increased as producers realize that wildlife can be accommodated within current farming
practices, although this will involve a continuing challenge to manage wildlife depredation.

Some of the changes that have resulted from converging economic and environmental objectives
are given below.
      Since 1989, prairie farmers have converted more than 1.2 million acres of marginal land,
       subject to serious soil erosion, from annual crops to more sustainable uses under forage.
      Between 1981 and 1991, the implementation of soil conservation practices in Canada
       reduced soil losses due to water erosion by 11%.
      The amount of land in summer fallow, a common practice in the prairie provinces (and
       one that can contribute to erosion), has declined 27% since 1971.
      Energy inputs for corn and soybean production have decreased by 38% and 45%,
       respectively, from levels used in 1975.
      Annual crop production has shifted as producers strive to maintain their farms and
       livelihoods. Market demands have led to a substantial increase in canola acres relative to
       wheat acres over the last few years (Figure 4). Many people are also exploring
       opportunities for niche crops such as herbs and spices.

Figure 4. Estimated value of production for Canadian wheat and oilseeds

Agri-Food Industry Responses
The agri-food sector is developing codes of practice that they feel will provide them with a
competitive advantage while also demonstrating good stewardship. Alternative uses for waste
products are being identified and developed, providing economic return from products that were
once seen as environmental burdens.

Some specific examples of adjustments in agri-food industries follow.
      Since 1989, new packaging systems and recycling have reduced the number of discarded
       pesticide containers by 11 million.
      The agri-food industry is participating in the National Packaging Protocol, which by 1992
       had reduced packaging waste by 20%, and is working toward a target of 50% of 1988
       levels by December 2000.

Producers and processors are trying to use natural advantages for their enterprises. For example,
there is considerable interest in pork development in the prairie provinces. A consultant report on
the industry in Saskatchewan made specific references to the environmental advantages for pork
production in the province, including a coordinated environmental licensing system. One
characteristic of the northern Great Plains is an extensive land base with a low population
density, which can be advantageous for livestock production and management.

Although actions are frequently local, as when entrepreneurs use natural advantages, sustainable
development is a global issue. Some resource uses have cross-border impacts. International
agreements and international perceptions have the potential to affect business decisions. In the
context of agriculture, usages of inputs such as pesticides and energy are often cited as indicators
of sustainability. In both cases, use is lower in both Canada and the United States than in other
developed countries (Figures 5 and 6).

Figure 5. Pesticide use

Figure 6. Apparent energy use for primary agriculture

Governments and industry are both changing. Producers and processors are "owning" their
future. They have become driving forces behind changes in the governments' approach, and they
are developing industry codes of practice. Individual producers are trying a variety of
diversification and industry specific marketing strategies. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is
working to develop initiatives involving subjects such as ethanol projects, aquifer planning,
greenhouses, agroforestry, and exotic livestock. The agri-food sector has a strong interest in
broad-based crop diversification. Removal of impediments is another area of interest, with
suggested approaches including streamlining regulations, developing infrastructure (including
local water supplies), and participating in and assisting with specific strategic planning for

There is increased recognition that action occurs at the local level, and it must be locally driven
and supported to be effective. Government's role is to provide the appropriate framework for
effective local responses and remove constraints to initiatives. Local leadership is especially
important for effective implementation of environmental and adaptation policies.

                                    Challenges for the Future
It is becoming evident that increased funds have not totally solved the problems of income
variability and farm survival. Further, the public is firmly opposed to solving today's problems
with more taxes. Income support has dominated expenditures by the Canadian Department of
Agriculture and Agri-Food. It is important to help adapt to a new market-led industry by
supporting the sector with research, infrastructure, and financing.

Key issues for sustainable development fall into three broad categories:
      Resource based: Physical resources continue to be identified as critical to the
       sustainability of the sector. Land, water, air, and genetic resources are essential. Land
       must be managed for sustainable production; the agriculture and agri-food sector must
       minimize its effect on water quality and reduce the competition for this resource, and it
       must reduce any negative impact on the atmosphere and adjust to potential climate
       change. Genetic resources continue to be essential to ensure long-term sustainability.
      Management: A wide range of management issues must be addressed so that the
       agriculture and agri-food sector can successfully adapt to changing circumstances. These
       issues range from ensuring sector participation in the development and implementation of
       applicable international agreements to pursuing opportunities for contributing to issues
       such as biodiversity while continuing to generate wealth. Issues such as minimizing
       waste and packaging and managing environmental risk from pesticides must be addressed
       for the future, as must issues associated with environmental liability. Opportunities
       associated with nontraditional agricultural activities must be managed to integrate
       environmental risks and benefits with wealth-generation opportunities. Finally, public
       interaction and communication remains a continuing challenge to ensure a balanced and
       proactive approach to sustainable development.
      Marketing and trade: International trade agreements provide opportunities and
       challenges for the sector. To meet these opportunities, the sector's full understanding and
       involvement is essential. Trade liberalization will also have impacts that must be
       managed. Other opportunities may be found in the development and marketing of new
       products and technologies and new uses for the sector's products.

Different approaches to environmental issues have proved successful in different circumstances.
Regulatory approaches have been successful in controlling specific pesticides. Voluntary
approaches, using a combination of education and awareness and incentives, have been
successful in motivating local organizations to address broader environmental management and
ecosystem concerns.

Citizens and industry groups have voluntarily coordinated their environmental objectives,
through codes of practice and other approaches, where the benefits are clear and direct and the
objectives can be integrated with economic viability requirements.

The Canadian federal government has a firm commitment to sustainable development. The
document Creating Opportunity sets a goal "to establish a framework in which environmental
and economic policy signals point the same way." For agriculture, the government has affirmed a
vision for Canada's agriculture and agri-food industry of

       a growing, competitive, market-oriented industry that is profitable; responds to the
       changing food and nonfood needs of domestic and international customers; is less
       dependent on government support; and contributes to the well-being of all Canadians and
       the quality of life in rural communities, while achieving farm financial security,
       environmental sustainability and a safe, high-quality food supply.

The government also has a specific goal of achieving $20 billion in agri-food exports in the year
2000, more than 20% above current levels. A comprehensive, integrated approach to sustainable
development that effectively balances economic, environmental, and social objectives is essential
to achieving these objectives.

People are asking and answering questions about sustainability individually and collectively. It is
clear there is not just one solution; we live in a rapidly changing world. There will be shocks to
the system in the future that have not yet been identified.

Are we headed for sustainability? We think so. We hope so. The challenges identified can also
be seen as opportunities. Change has been part of our past and will be part of our future. We are
facing and will continue to face issues that demand innovative responses from all of us. The
issues continue to change; at the moment, however, some pertinent questions being addressed by
rural prairie people are:
      how do we deal with the end of the transportation subsidy (individually and in policy
      how do the rural prairies develop wealth creation activities that have a natural advantage?
      how do individual producers identify and obtain markets?
      how do we balance environmental needs with financial/economic needs and social needs?

The key seems to be to maintain flexibility. If we are resilient enough to manage for the real
variability in markets, climate, and social perceptions, we should be able to manage for
long-term change. If we can remove rigidity from policies, and let individual citizens apply
innovative responses, we should be able to continue to achieve sustainability.

About the Authors
Harry Hill retired in 1995 after serving for 18 years as director general of the Prairie Farm
Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA), an agency of Agriculture Canada. Before that, he worked
for Environment Canada in environmental assessment and taught at the University of Waterloo
in water resources. Over the past several years he has worked in land management, soil
conservation, water development, and rural development.

Jill Vaisey is manager of Strategic Planning for the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration
of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. She has general policy responsibilities for the Branch,
with an emphasis on sustainable agriculture and the sustainable use and development of natural
resources in the Canadian rural prairies.

Common Ground: Working Together for a Sustainable Future

Molly Olson

The following chapter is the text of a speech delivered at a luncheon banquet on May 8, 1995.

I'm delighted to join you today to tell you a little about the President's Council on Sustainable
Development (PCSD). Talking about the idea of sustainable development with people who care
about the future and seeing the action already under-way across America is one of the great
privileges of our work at PCSD.

Today I want to tell you a little about the Council, its activities, and its goals, and how it fits in
with some of the forward-looking projects already underway in regions like the Great Plains.
And I'll offer you my view of what sustainable development means for the future of our country -
and generations to come.

It is also a pleasure to get outside of Washington, where the winds of change feel more like a
waving blender than progress. In fact, one of the terms most often associated with the changes
now underway in America is polarization. Everyone wants change, but few can agree on just
what exactly that change should be, and where it should lead.

The environment is a great example. During the Superfund re-authorization debate of the last
two years, everyone - businesses and environmentalists alike - agreed that the law was flawed
and had to be changed. But it was very difficult to find consensus on exactly how the law should
be changed. Today, the law is still seriously flawed, and it is still awaiting reauthorization.

Somehow, this country has to break out of the stalemate caused by polarization. Somehow, we
have to find new ways of thinking, new approaches to old problems, where both sides win.
Somehow, we have to find the common ground where both economic prosperity and
environmental protection are assured for all of us.

That's where the PCSD comes in. The Council is composed of 25 members appointed by the
president - a half-dozen cabinet secretaries, a half-dozen CEOs of prominent American
corporations, the heads of the largest environmental organizations in the country, and the leaders
of several other union, civil rights, native American, and state-level organizations. In other
words, the Council is composed of a cross-section of the nation's leadership and a cross-section

of the organizations and institutions with a deep interest in our country's economic,
environmental, and social future.

These leaders joined the Council in 1993 because they shared a common vision of the future.
They believed, for example, that a healthy economy and a healthy environment go hand in hand.
These two ideals are not contradictory or mutually exclusive. In fact, over the long run, you can't
have economic prosperity without protecting the ecological systems on which all life depends.
Moreover, you can't have either unless all the members of society have an equal opportunity to
share in the benefits of both.

Thus, at the outset, the Council adopted the Brundtland Commission's definition of sustainable
development, which is: "Development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising
the ability of future generations to meet their needs." Then we set for ourselves three main goals,
what I call the three Es: (1) strengthen the economy, (2) protect the environment, and (3) ensure
social equity.

We define success as the three Es working in unison. They form the foundation of our draft
vision statement:

Our vision is of life-sustaining Earth. We are committed to the achievement of a dignified,
peaceful, and equitable existence. We believe a sustainable United States will have a growing
economy that equitably provides opportunities for satisfying livelihoods and a safe, healthy, high
quality of life for current and future generations. Our Nation will protect its environment, its
natural resource base, and the functions of viability of natural systems on which all life depends.

Most of you probably agree with that vision. It sounds like a lot of motherhood and apple pie.
But lurking beneath the idealism are some very knotty problems: how do we build the economy,
protect the environment, and bring justice to our communities all at the same time?

We're convinced we can do it. We've seen examples in communities, in companies, and in
government. For instance:
      A few years ago, innovative state regulations allowed New England Electric to earn $8.3
       million on programs to encourage customers to conserve energy. The company saw a
       12% return on investment, saved its customers money, and helped fight global climate
       change and air pollution.
      With the help of the EPA and DOE Energy Star computer program, computer
       manufacturers achieved similar benefits. Innovative companies created new computers
       and printers that consume one-sixth the energy of previous models. And the government
       issued an executive order to purchase these energy-efficient computers, helping to
       develop the market.

      The people at Dow Chemical operate a program called Waste Reduction Always Pays.
       Since the program started in 1986, company employees have reduced waste and
       emissions by more than 120 million pounds a year. They also saved millions of dollars a
       year. This program reduces waste and increases competitiveness.

The PCSD hopes to promote this kind of behavior, behavior that leads to businesses making
more money by being better environmental stewards. Equally important, the Council hopes to
promote the same thinking in every federal, state, and local government agency, and in every
American family.

We want to see more of this:
      In California's Alameda County - which is a haven for environmentally oriented
       businesses - the number of jobs related to the environment grew 33% between 1985 and
       1990. Overall, jobs in the county increased 14%. That's an amazing growth rate. It shows
       that the booming market for environmental products and services is having a double
      A report from the Institute for Southern Studies pegged the top states for both
       environmental and economic health. Using 40 indicators - like job growth, work-place
       injuries, and waste generation - they praised Hawaii, Vermont, and New Hampshire as
       the best in both environmental and economic vitality. Research shows that the states that
       protect natural resources also wind up with the strongest economies and the best jobs.
      Communities are making great strides toward sustainability.

Studies also show that most Americans think sustainability can work. A recent Times Mirror
Magazine survey found that 66% of Americans agreed with the statement that environmental
protection and economic growth can go hand in hand. At the same time, they still show a strong
commitment to the environment: 60% said the environment should win if a compromise is

These recent reports tell us that the winds of change are howling now. In the past, the
government, industry, and environmental groups all approached environmental protection from
distinctly different paths on the President's Council. Now we're talking and listening to each
other. Considering new options. Agreeing on goals. Why? Because we recognize that together
we can be a powerful force for change, much more powerful and successful than any of us acting
alone have been in the past.

In the last year, the President's Council helped break down the walls between these groups.
Reaching our vision also means changing the way we make decisions on environmental,
economic, and social policy in this country. This nation canít tolerate much more gridlock.

I'm convinced that decisions resulting from consensus will be more widely accepted, respected,
and upheld. Best of all, these decisions will more likely deliver results.

For example, think of the Council co-chairs. It's a ground-breaking move to pair Jonathan Lash,
president of World Resources Institute, with David Buzzelli, a Dow Chemical Company
executive. It's a sign that confrontation belongs in the past - and that progress depends on

Let me mention a few of the Council's specific goals. By late 1995, the Council will set broad
national goals for sustainable development. As a framework for how we can achieve these goals,
the Council also will deliver specific policy recommendations to the president for a national
sustainable development action strategy.

If approved, the public and private sector together will adopt and implement these
recommendations. And we must identify some key indicators and measures of success so we'll
know that we've achieved results.

Our goals are to:
      respond to the recommendations in Agenda 21, the international policy declaration from
       the Rio Summit;
      sponsor projects that demonstrate and test the Council's perspective on sustainability;
      highlight outstanding sustainable development activities by individuals, organizations,
       and communities; and
      make the public aware of the benefits of sustainable development.

How are we doing on these goals? During its first year together, the Council worked hard to
organize and mobilize for action. Among other things, we built trust among the Council
members, shared viewpoints, and targeted mutual goals for the country.

At this point, the Council will accelerate its effort to form recommendations. Here is a quick look
at what we must accomplish in the coming months:
      First, we must identify practical, sustainable solutions to environmental challenges. Our
       mission is to find ways that we can meet the triple objectives of environmental
       protection, economic vitality, and social equity.
      Second, we must continue to learn from community initiatives. This means talking to
       people with strong opinions and clear challenges, like the people in the Great Plains.

So far, Council members have visited Seattle, Chicago, Chattanooga, and San Francisco to hear
about local sustainable development efforts. During these visits, Council members look for
sustainable development programs and initiatives.

You can see there is a lot of work to do - and a myriad of issues to consider. Early on, the
Council agreed to establish several task forces to examine critical issue areas in depth. Now,
more than 400 people serve on eight PCSD task forces to tackle these issues:
      Eco-efficiency, which looks at models of sustainable manufacturing, pollution
       prevention, and production stewardship
      Energy and Transportation
      Natural Resources Management and Protection
      Principles, Goals, and Definitions of Sustainable Development
      Population and Consumption
      Public Linkage, Dialogue, and Education
      Sustainable Agriculture
      Sustainable Communities

I'm confident that this intense effort will generate results - and lead to more equitable policy
recommendations for sustainable development.

We must all play our part. I believe the Council will be a success if our report draws the attention
of people around the country. We want to turn some heads, raise a few eyebrows, start
conversations in neighborhoods and office hallways. This is the launching pad for action; we are
only starting the journey down the path to sustainable development. If we are to succeed, people
must want us to continue this effort.

Each sector can interpret our work a little differently. For industry, I believe the time has come
for companies to be environmentally responsible as well as responsive. That means initiating
environmental strategies, creating new clean technologies - and moving beyond compliance.

In government, regulators and legislators can use sustainability as a framework for progress.
They should encourage industry to make voluntary improvements and offer incentives for
progress. The EPA and DOE are doing this today - by offering a menu of voluntary programs,
like WasteWise, ClimateWise, and Green Lights, where industry can benefit from participation.

Environmental organizations can do their part by rallying public support and promoting
individual efforts to achieve sustainable development. This means translating broad goals into
meaningful activities for people like you and me to follow. It's not an easy task.

Communities can take action by incorporating sustainable development principles in the way
they develop their economy and their social and physical infrastructures.

One thing we know: The work of this Council will have an impact beyond our country's borders.
We must instill sustainable development values in people around the world. Business crosses
national boundaries every day - with global markets, global production, global technology

Sustainable development demands that we change the way we do business. Council members -
industry, government, and environmental leaders alike - are searching for a path to development
that is truly sustainable.

Today you have taken on that challenge for the North American Great Plains. In the end,
achieving sustainable development will depend on each of us taking personal responsibility for
our own actions.

The Council can learn a great deal from your experiences and expertise. I want to congratulate
you for your efforts here in the Great Plains because partnerships like this will help our nation
leave a legacy to future generations that we can all be proud of.

About the Author
Molly Olson is executive director of the President's Council on Sustainable Development. Before
joining the Council, Ms. Olson was special assistant to the director of the Bureau of Land
Management at the U.S. Department of Interior, with responsibility for ecosystem management,
and the deputy national coordinator of environmentalists for Clinton-Gore. She worked with the
Environmental Minister of Australia, where she conducted a major review of that government's
funding for the environment, and she was a scientific research diver with the Australian Institute
of Marine Science. Ms. Olson has been a delegate at major international meetings on the
environment. She has lectured, written, and published on environmental issues and has been
managing editor and member of the editorial board of Wildlife Australia magazine. In January
1995, Ms. Olson was selected as a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Leaders for
Tomorrow program (GLT).

Defining Sustainability Concerns and Issues for the North American
Great Plains: Challenges and Opportunities

Allen Tyrchniewicz and Stephen Ragone

Governor Ben Nelson, Senator Bob Kerrey, Robert Slater, and Molly Olson set the stage for us
as we began this symposium. In Session 2 (Region at Risk), economic and social stressors were
outlined for the Great Plains, as well as the implications of global environmental change and
government policies as stressors. Case studies from both countries highlighted sustainable
development practices.

All of this is important, because it provides information about some of the key issues and
concerns on the Great Plains and what type of initiatives are being developed to further the
sustainability of the Great Plains.

This chapter will change directions slightly, and focus on the concerns of the citizens of the
Great Plains. Through the surveys distributed with the conference registration information,
participants told us about their concerns on the Great Plains. This chapter will also discuss other
issues that have come through multistakeholder discussion groups in Canada and the United
States. It is important to understand what the stakeholders of the Great Plains are concerned
about - this should be one of the key drivers of research and policies.

We will focus on two main themes in this chapter. The first will be a discussion of the survey, its
objectives, and the results. This will be followed by a more detailed look at some of the
highlighted issues. This chapter will focus on the results of the multistakeholder discussion
groups and will conclude with a discussion of the implications of these results and what they
mean to us.

To arrive at a sustainable future for the Great Plains, it is important that we remember to examine
all sides of the issues - otherwise the recommendations will not be sustainable. During the
planning of this symposium, we felt that one of the best ways to determine the important
concerns on the Great Plains was to ask people directly. The survey had three important
objectives: the first was to determine what people felt were important issues in their state or
province and the Great Plains. The second was to provide decision makers and researchers with
information about the perceived concerns of the Great Plains (and thus a better understanding of
the needs of stakeholders) as they plan their new agendas. The people living in the communities
tend to be closer to the issues than researchers and policy makers. Third, the survey was designed
to help us plan for recommendations coming out of our workshops. These recommendations
represent our response to the needs of the Great Plains, and the information from the survey is

critical to understanding those individual concerns. (For the complete text of this survey, see
Appendix A).

Recently at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), we were discussing
what makes an ecosystem. And the question came up whether the Great Plains of North America
was a single ecosystem or a combination of several smaller ones. As the conversation
progressed, it was pointed out that there should be a scientific basis for the answer, as well as
some shared concerns throughout. Although we do not have a definitive answer about whether it
is a single ecosystem, we can conclude that the issues facing the Great Plains as a whole were
very similar. As we come to understand different parts of the Plains, much of this can be
translated to other areas within the region.

Figure 1 displays the concerns outlined in the survey - small rural communities, agriculture
productivity, water resources, and the preservation of biodiversity; average responses are also
included. The level of concern is based on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being the greatest.

Figure 1. Concerns of the Great Plains

The five series graphed represent an average value for different areas of the Great Plains. What is
interesting in this figure is how close the five regions are in terms of average level of response.
Of the four concerns outlined, agriculture productivity rated the highest concern at 3.5; water
resources and biodiversity are just under 2.5. Rural communities were of the least concern at
2.25, but this was still a concern.

Figure 2 indicates the distribution of the responses. Essentially, these are normal distributions,
which implies that we can take the average as representative of the concerns for the area as a
whole. But they also show how the response broke down in terms of levels of concern. What is
interesting to note is that all responses to agriculture productivity viewed it as somewhat
concerned or higher.

Figure 2. Concerns of the Great Plains - distribution of responses

Taking a closer look at agriculture productivity, we can see how it relates to the four stressors
covered in the survey (Figure 3). The results indicate that government policy is the most
influential stressor on agriculture productivity. This could be attributed to perceptions about
government being too involved in agriculture or the reverse, not involved enough (this will be
discussed below). Economic stressors were perceived to be the next most important, followed by
the environment and, finally, societal stressors. It is not surprising that societal stressors are of
least concern since agriculture production has moved from a labor-intensive to a capital-intensive

Figure 3. Stressors on agricultural productivity

Water has always been a concern on the Great Plains. Floods and droughts have had an impact
on agriculture as well as the availability of clean water for Great Plains inhabitants for recreation
and consumption purposes. The survey results have indicated that economic, environment, and
government stressors have a role in the water resources issue (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Stressors on water resources

Water is one of the most sought-after resources because of its importance to society and
agriculture as well as other industries on the Plains. And because it is important to all of these
areas, it becomes an important issue for government in terms of allocation and protection of the

The preservation of biodiversity has become an increasing concern on the Great Plains. What is
interesting here is that Figure 5 (showing the concerns about biodiversity) is very similar to
Figure 4, with the exception of social stressors, which have been shown to increase. Some of the
driving concerns here come from an increasing demand for food on a global basis, encroaching
urbanization, and some of the past economic and government incentives to increase agricultural
land. These are just some examples; this list is by no means exclusive.

Figure 5. Stressors on biodiversity

The stressors on the rural communities show a different pattern because they are not as related to
agriculture as originally thought. Figure 6 shows that it is important to deal with economic and
social issues before environment becomes a major concern to citizens.

Figure 6. Stressors on rural communities

Perhaps one of the biggest stressors on rural communities comes from motorized transportation.
In the days of the horse and buggy, services were located within 10 miles of each other.
Motorized transportation has enabled people to travel these distances in relatively short periods
of time. Now people are heading to larger service centers that can meet all their needs and
bypassing the smaller communities. This has led to rural depopulation because the small
communities can no longer support their own services.

In the past, government has tried to protect these smaller communities, but it has become
increasingly difficult through the current policy regimes and the economic forces they are
working against.

Respondents were also asked to comment on other concerns and issues that they considered
important. Soil and air quality were mentioned as natural resources of concern in the Great
Plains. Soil quality is of particular importance because it ties in very closely with agriculture
productivity. Air quality is a concern that relates more to societal concerns in terms of airborne
pollutants from industry and odors from some agricultural activities.

Perhaps one of the more interesting concerns raised by the survey was the issue of citizen civil
awareness and education. This is particularly important because for people to realize goals of
sustainable development, they require complete information about their decisions. It was also
aptly pointed out that human resources are an important concern of the Great Plains. In
particular, this relates to rural depopulation and the skills of the people remaining within the

The lack of value-added raises a very interesting question about the development of the rural
communities and citizen awareness and education, as well some of the government policies on
both sides of the border with respect to exports. This is a concern that relates to rural
communities as well as the productivity of agriculture and the skills of the individual.

Local attitude was identified as a stressor by survey respondents. This is very important on the
Great Plains because it determines what happens at the grassroots level. Local attitude can be
negative, but it can also have a very positive influence. It is here that new innovations (in terms
of agriculture productivity) and new ideas are created; local attitude also determines how we
look at our resources.

One example of positive local attitude is Country Lane Candles, a small company in southern
Manitoba. Before developing the business, the owners had taken a good look at the resources and
opportunities available to them. They came up with the idea of using what was considered waste
streams from some of the other industries in the area and channeled it into a lucrative business
opportunity. They use corn stalks to heat a boiler that is fed water from a nearby creek. This

heated water is used to melt beeswax, which is then converted into designer candles. The boiler
is also used to heat the homes of the owners.

This has created an employment opportunity for local residents, and value-added into
commodities that were once considered waste or were exported in their raw form. Although this
is a small company that has found its niche market, it does provide us with a good example of
how local attitudes convert challenges into opportunities.

We would like to reiterate some of the key stressors within the Great Plains that were outlined
earlier, as well as some of the stressors that have been identified through the multistakeholder
discussion groups. We will pull them together to show how they relate to each other. They are
very difficult to look at in isolation, partly because the economic, environmental, and social
issues all play an important role in sustainable development. Like a three-legged stool, without
one of these elements, the whole process becomes very unstable. Government is also included in
this because it plays an overarching role in all three of these areas.

Economic stressors have already been indicated as some of the most critical stressors on the
Great Plains. Agriculture is the major activity on the Great Plains, and effects on agriculture have
effects on the region. Low world farm commodity prices have reduced the profitability of
agriculture right across the Great Plains. On top of this stress, the input costs have been
increasing, further reducing the margins for farmers.

But economic stressors do not just affect agriculture. Rural communities and the environment
have also been adversely affected. Changing technology, for example, has led to reduced
employment opportunities in agriculture at the primary production level, as well as in small rural
communities because of the transportation issues mentioned earlier. At the same time, however,
it has the potential to increase employment opportunities within the community. This can be
illustrated by the computerization of small bakeries that can now compete with larger bakeries
while being able to offer a more diverse range of products. Another example of this potential is
improved communication technologies, which have allowed facilities located within small towns
the opportunity to perform jobs such as data entry for larger companies located in large urban

The agricultural community (on both sides of the border) has received support from the
government, but as the economic realities begin to set in, this support is becoming less available.

Some of the important stressors that have been identified in the multistakeholder discussions, as
well as this symposium, are degrading soil and water quality, which have an obvious effect on
agriculture productivity and society; changing climatic conditions; and declining biological
diversity of the region, which can have effects on the flora and fauna which we do not fully

Societal stressors have become increasingly important on the Great Plains. Land use allocation,
for example, has raised equity issues between commercial and recreational uses. This also
includes non-farming communities. For example, large livestock operations such as hogs might
be located in municipalities or counties whose inhabitants find the operations offensive.

Another issue that has been discussed in some detail already is employment opportunities. On
the other side of the transportation issue, raised earlier, citizens must now travel greater distances
to fulfill their social and shopping needs.

The role of government in the Great Plains is one that still has to be worked out for many people.
There are perceptions that market forces can move the Plains toward a sustainable future and that
government does not have to be involved. There are also views that to reach sustainable
development of the Plains requires government policy and programs that direct decision makers
in reaching the goals of sustainable development. This raises three government stressors that
have come out of some of the discussions across the Plains. The first is that the policy design
should include the views of all stakeholders. Second, we must recognize that sustainable
development is a moving target. We should also recognize that the policies and programs should
change as needs change. By looking at these two factors, conflicts between different levels of
government - the third factor - can be reduced as the effects on all stakeholders are considered.

Although this was a quick review of the stressors on the Great Plains, some key points should be
outlined. As the stressors were discussed, some issues were recurring. This is important because
it demonstrates that there are links between all of the stressors that were discussed during the
course of this symposium. Another lesson that we should take away from this symposium is a
further knowledge of the issues on the Great Plains as seen by individuals. And it is these issues
that we should start to work into our research agendas. In many cases, this has already started to

As we look at the diverse range of people participating in this symposium, it could be pointed out
that we recognize that to reach a sustainable future for the Great Plains requires a
multistakeholder approach, since no one group holds all the answers. There are groups who
believe that to reach sustainable development requires tradeoffs between economics, the
environment, and society. By definition, sustainable development suggests that by reviewing the
three areas in conjunction, an optimal solution can be achieved. We must remember that we do
not have all the answers, that a sustainable future for the Great Plains will require a moving
target, and that sustainable development requires economics, society, and the environment to be
included in the decision-making process.

About the Authors

Allen Tyrchniewicz is an associate with the Great Plains Project at the International Institute for
Sustainable Development (IISD) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is co-author of an IISD report,
Sustainable Development for the Great Plains: Policy Analysis. Before joining IISD, Mr.
Tyrchniewicz spent three years with the Transport Institute as a research associate researching
trade practices and agribusiness logistics. He also worked on several soil conservation projects
during his five years with the Soil Science Department at the University of Manitoba. He serves
on the steering committee for the prairie chapter of the State of the Environment.

Stephen Ragone is a principal of S. E. Ragone and Associates. Before starting his consulting
firm, Dr. Ragone was employed by the U.S. Geological Survey, where he held technical,
managerial, and policy-level positions. He served as assistant director for research from 1990 to
1995. Dr. Ragone has published reports on geochemical processes occurring during deep-well
injection of tertiary-treated sewage and on the causes of nitrate pollution in ground water. His
recent publications have described interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the effects of
human-induced and natural stresses on environmental systems.

 Part II

Case Studies

A Case Study of Sustainable Land Use: The Delivery of the NAWMP in
Prairie Canada - Socioeconomic Impacts

Greg Riemer, Julia Taylor, and Derek Burden

This chapter reviews the delivery and evaluations of the North American Waterfowl
Management Plan (NAWMP) in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. It identifies the common
themes in three provincial studies, as well as the major findings of each of the studies.

The NAWMP is an agreement among Canada, the United States, and Mexico to cooperate in
restoring waterfowl populations to the levels of the 1970s to improve habitat for other
wetland-dependent wildlife. It remains the largest conservation initiative in the world's history.
Funding for the NAWMP comes from non-governmental agencies, state and U.S. federal
governments, and provincial and Canadian federal governments.

The NAWMP encourages and helps North American wildlife conservation organizations focus
investment on critical habitat areas for migratory birds. Through the NAWMP, key waterfowl
habitat in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba compose the Prairie Habitat Joint Venture
(PHJV), one of 12 habitat joint ventures in North America. The PHJV is the NAWMPís top
priority because it provides breeding habitat for almost 40% of the continent's duck population,
including 50% of mallards and more than 55% of pintails.

The NAWMP evolved from the need to address the rapid decline in continental waterfowl
populations, in particular the duck population. The PHJV is the structure that coordinates the
delivery of the NAWMP in the three Canadian prairie provinces. The NAWMP partners
recognize that the decline in waterfowl is a symptom of poor land-use practices, the conversion
of low land-use capability land to cultivation (highlighted by the destruction of wetlands), and
soil degradation and erosion. Specifically, the NAWMP was designed to improve the prairie
ecosystem to support a thriving waterfowl population. Historically, the three prairie provinces
have been the breeding grounds for nearly half of the continental duck population. Much of the
habitat needed to support higher duck populations has been destroyed, in part by agriculture
driven by government policies, by the draining of wetlands, and by the destruction of breeding,
migratory, and wintering habitat.

                                       Program Objectives
The PHJV has several goals and objectives that it hopes will transcend NAWMP activities. They
are as follows:

1. Changes to the landscape will provide a more favorable and stable lifestyle to residents of the
prairies, and for visitors who will come in increasing numbers.
2. Increased use of marginal land for agriculture has caused loss of habitat and is leading to
increased soil and water degradation by agriculture and to farming that is not (commercially and
environmentally) sustainable without government subsidies.
3. Objectives for habitat and soil and water conservation are complementary - this seems to
imply that both will make a contribution to sustaining the same enterprises, presumably farms.
4. The financial incentives to be offered by the Prairie Habitat Joint Venture will be sufficient to
provide the land user with the necessary incentives to make desired changes - this is an implicit
5. The chosen financial incentives will be economically justifiable - this implies that they will
involve expenditures only necessary to induce the changes and which are less than the social
benefits that will be received.
6. There will be no continuing subsidies to maintain the land use changes brought about by the
(PHJV Prairie Habitat: A Prospectus, 1989)

                                        Program Delivery
Within the NAWMP, the PHJV represents a partnership of provincial and national wildlife
habitat conservation and land-use agencies. Principal among these are the Canadian Wildlife
Service (CWS) of Environment Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and the aforementioned
provincial agencies. Through this partnership, an integrated land-use approach is taken in linking
agricultural and wildlife interests to NAWMP programming in prairie Canada. The
Saskatchewan Wetland Conservation Corporation (SWCC) was created to coordinate provincial
activities on behalf of Saskatchewan NAWMP partners. In Alberta, the Alberta NAWMP Centre
fulfills a similar function. The Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation provides overall
coordination in Manitoba. The NAWMP, a continental partnership among Canada, the United
States, and Mexico, seeks to restore waterfowl and other wetland-dependent wildlife through
sound land-use programs that contribute to soil, water, and wildlife conservation.

To address these habitat losses, a landscape approach was adopted in which a broadly based
impact on the agricultural landscape is achieved by working with landowners to modify
agricultural practices. Land can be purchased outright at fair market price, leased, or set aside by
means of conservation agreements. Landowners are offered financial incentives in exchange for
modified farming practices that accommodate waterfowl and for returning suitable marginal land
to conditions of improved nesting cover.

Ducks Unlimited Canada is the main delivery agent of PHJV programming in each province
through its umbrella program "Prairie CARE." This group delivers a myriad of activities on the
land to make agricultural activities "wildlife friendly." These include delayed hay cutting,
inter-pothole seeding, establishment of dense nesting cover, enhancement of winter wheat

production, nest basket programs, implementation of rotational grazing systems, underseeding of
clover, direct seeding, and reduced tillage. In addition, agricultural support services, biological
evaluation, communications and marketing, and financial and human resource management are
delivered. Other programs contributing to the objectives of each provincial NAWMP include
Large Marsh, Nest Baskets, Prairie Shores, and Waterfowl Crop Damage Prevention and
Compensation. Delivery agencies and mechanisms vary between provinces with each program.

Underlying the importance of on-the-ground delivery, the NAWMP realized very early on that
reaching the goals of the PHJV would not be possible without major changes to land use policies
in western Canada that encouraged the annual cropping of marginal soils. On behalf of the
PHJV, the SWCC coordinates land use policy reform initiatives. This coordination includes the
synopsis of socioeconomic evaluations of the PHJV. In conjunction with the North American
Wetland Conservation Council (Canada), the SWCC helped develop a discussion paper on the
implications of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) on the PHJV and
participated in a submission on the environmental assessment of crop insurance.

The PHJV assessed the costs associated with decoupling farm support payments on habitat
conservation. Offering farm support payments on unimproved lands would help develop wildlife
habitat and have little effect on existing farm support for cultivated acreage.

                     Socioeconomic Evaluation of the NAWMP Delivery
Each provincial coordinating agency conducted a socioeconomic evaluation of NAWMP
delivery in its province. This evaluation of the NAWMP was a five-year review mandated by the
NAWMP itself. Following that, the three provincial agencies and the CWS of Environment
Canada combined the three separate evaluations. Their report presents a prairie-wide synopsis of
three provincial socioeconomic evaluations, conducted in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
This chapter reviews the findings of the three socioeconomic evaluations, provides a prairie
perspective of the NAWMP initiatives, and ascertains whether the program is attaining the
economic and sociological goals and objectives of the PHJV.

                                     Evaluation Objectives
Common objectives were laid out in advance and with mutual agreement. These were divided
into an economic component and a sociological component for ease of analysis.

The economic component of these three studies deals primarily with the first and second
objectives of the evaluation:
1. To estimate the impact of the agricultural land treatment options offered by the NAWMP on
the incomes of farmers participating in the program.
2. To estimate the impact of NAWMP expenditures on local and/or regional economies in each

The sociological component deals primarily with the third and fourth objectives of the
3. To identify and quantify the attitudes and values of farmers toward the land treatment options
offered by the NAWMP.
4. To identify and quantify the attitudes and values of the general public toward the objectives
   and activities of the NAWMP.

Each province used different consultants and methodologies to address these objectives because
program delivery and length of delivery varies by province. In general, combinations of accepted
economic analysis and survey data were used.

Several economic themes are common to NAWMP delivery across the prairie provinces:
1. The compensation offered in exchange for participation in NAWMP land treatment options is
generally adequate throughout the prairie provinces. There is also a strong indication that persons
participating in NAWMP land treatment options are aware of future benefits resulting from the
farming practices promoted by NAWMP.
2. NAWMP activities have an impact on the economies of local communities through two
possible sources. The first source is direct NAWMP activities and changes in land use; the
second source is tourism. In the case of both sources, the report found that the impact of
NAWMP activities on the economies of local communities ranged from stabilizing to

Across the prairie provinces, the following common sociological themes were found:
1. The attitudes and values of farmers surveyed in the three prairie provinces toward the
preservation of waterfowl habitat and nongame species habitat and the conservation of
agricultural resources are significantly positive. Although they support programs promoting
these activities, farmers maintain an average to low level of awareness of NAWMP.
2. The attitudes and values of the general public in the three prairie provinces about the
preservation of waterfowl habitat and nongame species habitat and the conservation of
agricultural resources are also positive. Like the farmers surveyed, the general public has
positive attitudes toward environmental issues related to the NAWMP and an average to low
level of awareness of NAWMP.
3. Farmers and the general public agree on issues of environmental concern. This seems to be
especially true since people on the prairies indicated that they have placed a value on simply
knowing wildlife exists (existence value) and, in some cases, have placed a value on the chance
that they may wish to enjoy it in the future (option value). The presence of an existence value or
an option value is a strong indication that people may also place a value on the preservation of
wildlife for future generations to enjoy (bequest value).

4. Both farmers and the general public agree that the fundamental role of government should be
to provide public funding for these types of programs, and the governments' cost-sharing
relationship with the other funding agencies should be maintained.
5. It is perceived that, in the past, compensation for waterfowl damage has been poorly
   delivered. Farmers tend to relate increasing waterfowl populations with increasing crop
   damage. Their lack of awareness of the new level of crop damage compensation could explain
   any tendency to maintain the idea that compensation is not adequate. Distribution of
   information pertaining to the effectiveness of lure crops and feeding stations may influence
   the perception of compensation adequacy. Although the concern of waterfowl damage is low
   in most cases, a problem may arise if people associate an increase in crop damage with an
   increase in NAWMP activities and hence an increase in waterfowl population.

This review of the socioeconomic evaluations of the Prairie Habitat Joint Venture indicates that
the goals and objectives set out in 1989 in PHJV Prairie Habitat: A Prospectus are being met.
This synopsis has found that farmers are generally being adequately compensated for
participation in the program; rural communities benefit from NAWMP activities; people are
aware of environmental concerns surrounding the NAWMP; and people strongly support the
continuation of these types of programs, both morally and financially.

About the Authors
Greg Riemer is manager of Agricultural Programs at the Saskatchewan Wetland Conservation
Corporation (SWCC) and agricultural policy coordinator for the Prairie Habitat Joint Venture of
the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Among his other duties for SWCC are
socioeconomic evaluation and Crown Land acquisition and management. Before coming to
SWCC, he was assistant manager of the Agriculture Development Fund (ADF), Saskatchewan
Agriculture; and a research agronomist working in areas such as commercial crop research, farm
management, environmental portfolios, and increased silage yields.

Julia Taylor received a B.Sc. Honors in mathematical statistics from the University of Alberta
and an M.Sc. in agricultural economics in 1988 from the University of Saskatchewan, where she
is a professional research associate.

Derek Burden received a B.S.A. and an M.Sc. in agricultural economics from the University of
Saskatchewan. He holds a position in the Agricultural Credit Division of the Bank of Nova
Scotia in Saskatoon, Canada.

Education and Research to Support Sustainable Development: A
Regional Mandate in the North Central United States

Charles Francis, James King, Heidi Carter, Lisa Jasa, and Steve Waller

                  The Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth. . . .
                 We did not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it.
                         Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
                                       Chief Seattle, 1854

The Great Plains is an ecological region, comprising a number of life zones and dissected by
multiple human-designated boundaries. These divide one county from another, one state from the
next, and the United States from Canada. With the exception of a few boundaries that follow
rivers, these divisions are mostly artificial constructs that complicate our study of agricultural
ecosystems and cause us to focus on political differences rather than on cooperative programs for
the region. As we study the "web of life" and elaborate on the design of our agricultural "strand
within it," the importance of commonalities across boundaries becomes more clear. At the same
time, we learn about the uniqueness of "place." Developing food systems that are consistent with
the available natural resources and that can be sustained for the indefinite future emerges as a

Human and societal resources are central to the design and implementation of unique crop and
crop/animal production systems that are specific to the many conditions in the Great Plains. Over
the past century, conscious specialization in departments, disciplines, and narrowly defined
organizations has created agricultural technologies that have promoted impressive advances in
food production for residents and for export. Success with these systems, highly dependent on
fossil fuels and the exploitation and extraction of natural resources, has perhaps blinded our
senses to what now appear obvious impacts of current systems on both the environment and the
natural capital on which they depend. From this awareness emerges a concern for our sustainable
future, one that is closely linked to the success of other species in the Great Plains and the
resource base on which we all depend.

A regional sustainable development mandate has been created in the United States to examine
and solve the problems of short-term planning. Federal, local, and private resources are being
invested in a number of organizations that are working in synchrony to develop programs
appropriate to the Plains. These are leading to development of future educational and research
strategies that will benefit both humans and other residents of this fragile ecosystem.

                                      Research Programs
The North Central Regional Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program is
part of a national, decentralized approach to designing food systems for the future in the United
States. This low-overhead, federally funded program directs 94% of its monies directly to
support of research and education. In the region, administrative and technical committees
determine how the funds are to be spent. These committees include farmers and ranchers,
agribusiness and nonprofit representatives, scientists, and both private and public sector
administrators. There are partnerships for funding and implementation with the Environmental
Protection Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, land grant and other
universities, and private citizens. Most often these groups work together on projects; partnerships
are forged among scientists, farmers and ranchers, agribusiness, Extension specialists and agents,
community groups, and environmental organizations. The results are aimed at providing
practical and environmentally sound solutions to current farm and ranch production and
marketing problems.

More than 200 projects are funded to date. Several examples of recent grants serve to illustrate
the activities of the North Central Regional SARE Program, with the names of the project
coordinators, departments, and locations:
 Integration of conservation tillage, animal manures, and cultural pest control in corn (David
  Andow, Entomology Department, University of Minnesota)
 Development of organic N availability functions for a nitrogen management model (Larry
  Bundy, Soil Science Department, University of Wisconsin)
 Substituting legumes for fallow in U.S. Great Plains wheat production (John Gardner,
  Carrington Research Station, North Dakota State University)
 Middle Border on-farm research consortium (Patrick Moore, Land Stewardship Project,
  Montevideo, Minnesota)
 On-farm experimentation with practical low-cost alternatives for including livestock in
  sustainable farming systems (Ron Krupicka, Center for Rural Affairs, Walthill, Nebraska)
 Assessing soil phosphorus availability in low-input systems (Steve Thien, Agronomy
  Department, Kansas State University)
 Low-input beef cattle systems of production (Terry Klopfenstein, Animal Science Department,
  University of Nebraska)
 Estimation of reduced machinery ownership costs in diversified cropping systems (Glenn
  Helmers, Agricultural Economics Department, University of Nebraska)
 Economic and environmental implications of 1990 farm bill sustainability provisions in
  water-quality sensitive areas (Thomas Dobbs, Economics Department, South Dakota State

Current emphasis in the north central region continues on multidisciplinary, cooperative research
projects that link farmers and ranchers with researchers, Extension specialists and educators with
nonprofit organizations, and current problems with people seeking solutions. An educational
dimension of the same grant program has focused on economic viability of rural communities,
farmer mentors for beginning farmers, and innovative marketing strategies.

A recent innovation in the program has been the funding of producer grants. These grants go
directly to farmers or ranchers who are pursuing solutions to the most practical and immediate
questions that face them in the field. Often these are designed in conjunction with university
experiment station or Extension specialists who provide expertise in design and analysis. They
are initiated by the producers. Examples include:
      Winter rye as companion crop in establishment of alfalfa (Gary Young, McLean,
      Annual alfalfa and berseem clover interseeded into winter wheat for fall grazing and
       green manure (Oren Holle, Bremen, Kansas)
      Strip tilling sunflowers into small grain residue (Lawson Jones, Webster, North Dakota)
      Evaluation of ridge tillage with and without herbicides (Ron Rossman, Harlan, Iowa)
      Riparian/range restoration (Jeff Mortenson, Pierre, South Dakota)

Federal support for these projects started at a modest level and has been maintained or increased
each year since 1988. These regional projects have received $10 million in federal support
during the past eight years. Practical research projects have been funded in all twelve states in
the north central region, and each of these has an outreach component. Besides the research
grants illustrated here, activities in education and demonstration have been the focus of many of
the projects.

                               Classroom Education Programs
There has been a growing interest by students and faculty in the integration of academic
materials across topics and disciplines. A number of new courses, seminars, and practical
educational activities have emerged as a result of this concern. For example, during 1995,
courses in agroforestry and agroecology were added to the undergraduate curriculum at the
University of Nebraska. These complement seminars already on the schedule that deal with
low-input grazing systems for beef production, sustainable agricultural systems, and natural
resource economics.

A number of courses in the undergraduate program focus on the complex issues that characterize
farming and ranching systems. More important than the single factors and responses to
individual inputs are the interactions among system components, the integration efficiencies that
result from blending crops and livestock, and the applications of ecological principles in the
design of production systems. Nutrient and water cycling, biodiversity, and design of systems for

protection against insects and weeds are part of the content of these academic approaches to
understanding system design and function.

In addition to classroom courses, intern programs are being initiated to provide students with the
hands-on experience that will make their academic study more practical. An intern program at
the University of Nebraska is in its first year. Students manage their own small farms and
extrapolate the results to commercial farms in the region. The undergraduate interns are
comparing conventional cropping, diversified cropping, agroforestry, organic cropping, and
resource-efficient beef production systems in the field.

The North Central Institute for Sustainable Systems is a new initiative whose design was
supported by W. K. Kellogg and Northwest Area Foundations and is now funded by the USDA
Higher Education Challenge grants. This initiative will provide practical experiential learning
opportunities in sustainable agricultural systems. We will teach and increase knowledge about
sustainable living, through courses and curricula leading to a minor degree for students at any
institution of higher learning in the region, including historically black colleges and universities,
native American land grant schools, and traditional land grant universities. The institute program
features practica, workshops, and combinations of field and classroom courses, with materials
delivered on site and remotely using the most appropriate current technologies. Faculty for the
institute will include qualified farmers and ranchers, public and private agency specialists, and
people from nonprofit organizations, in addition to university educators. We can develop a
comprehensive program by tapping into a wide range of people and resources, and bring together
a capability that is not available at any single institution or in any one state. Examples of the
types of courses that will be included in the institute program are:
      Crop growth and development in integrated systems
      Integrated systems of crop and animal production
      Integrated row cropping and agroforestry systems
      Agroecology and design of integrated systems
      On-farm research designs and crop rotations
      Whole farm system and watershed design
      Economics of alternative crop and animal production systems
      Interactions among natural and human systems
      Historical and current world food issues and systems

                                 Extension Education Programs
Sustainable agricultural systems are central to future educational activities in both Extension and
the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). We have a long history of close
cooperation between agencies in design of conservation tillage and crop and range management
alternatives. A four-state workshop in 1992 brought together Extension and NRCS specialists to
share ideas and learn about integrated crop management; in addition to the special topic

presentations, four farmers described their concepts of integrated systems and answered
questions from the group. With support from the regional SARE program, a series of eight
workshops was held in 1993 on successful farm management strategies, using presentations from
federal agencies, Extension, and the farming community. These were predecessors to the current
regional training program.

A training program, the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Extension Training Consortium,
is federally funded by authorization of the 1990 farm bill. In the first year (1995), there is a
two-state eco-region-based training project in North and South Dakota, and a regionwide project
designed by specialists from the University of Nebraska, Ohio State University, NRCS, and
Lincoln University. The overall goal is to prepare a cadre of educators to conduct innovative
training in their own states for Extension educators, NRCS specialists, and other agricultural
professionals. During 1995 we organized one planning workshop and two "train the trainer"
workshops around the theme Everyone a Teacher, Everyone a Learner. Teams are now using this
material plus their own unique ideas to implement training programs in each state. Two key
issues that surfaced during the planning session were (1) sustainable agriculture must be viewed
in a framework of social, economic, and environmental factors, and (2) training must be
inclusive, both in terms of trainers and audience. The two subsequent workshops explored
economic, social, and environmental dimensions of agriculture through use of a wide range of
learning techniques. In Nebraska, the group toured an integrated crop and livestock farm and
discussed the merits and limitations of organic production systems. A comprehensive manual
was assembled and distributed to more than 500 persons (Carter and Francis, 1995).

                                    Information Programs
A series of exploratory conferences and workshops during the past decade has brought the
concepts of sustainable agriculture to a broader array of players in this region. A regional
conference in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1988; a national conference in Columbus, Ohio, that same
year; and a national conference in Lincoln in 1990 raised the awareness of people in a wide
range of organizations about the nature of challenges facing agriculture. These programs helped
to coalesce the interest of decision makers, researchers, and educators and increased interest in
the fledgling Low-Input, Sustainable Agriculture (LISA, now SARE) program that had received
federal support. The National Agricultural Library was instrumental in bringing relevant
information into fact sheets and key bibliographies that were widely distributed in the United
States. These information activities are now much more sophisticated and readily available to
anyone who can access the system electronically or who wishes to request materials by mail.
Key resource people include:
- Mary Gold, Alternative Farming Information Center, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville,
Maryland 20705ñ2351; telephone (301) 504ñ6559; fax (301) 504ñ6409; internet
- Andy Clark, SAN Coordinator, c/o Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, National
Agricultural Library, Beltsville, Maryland 20705ñ2351; telephone (301) 504ñ6425; fax (301)
504ñ6409; internet

- ATTRA, P.O. Box 3657, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701; tel. (800) 346ñ9140; fax (501)

Cooperative programs in research and education are being developed across state and
disciplinary boundaries to explore the complexities of natural resources, agricultural production,
and food systems that will be sustainable for the long term. Education and research are promoted
in the north central region of the United States by the federally supported Sustainable Agriculture
Research and Education (SARE) Program, which involves academic institutions, farmers and
ranchers, nonprofit groups, and government agencies working together to meet common goals.

Research programs include study of integrated agricultural practices that promote nutrient and
water cycling, efficient use of renewable and nonrenewable resources, crop/livestock systems,
and sustainable economic returns in alternative systems. Educational programs in the classroom
and the field now offer courses in agroforestry, agroecology, natural resource economics, and
practical farm design and management. Extension activities are moving beyond a focus on
specific technical topics to integration of subject matter in design of whole farm and watershed
level systems. The emphasis on larger areas and community concerns distinguishes the new
programs from conventional meetings and publications dealing with specific components of
technology. A series of workshops, Everyone a Teacher, Everyone a Learner, recognized the
wide range of expertise available in the agricultural community and brought key people together
to study participatory learning methods for adult audiences.

The new North Central Institute for Sustainable Systems is creating a regionwide faculty that
includes specialists from government agencies, farmers and ranchers, nonprofit agency members,
and academics to design and implement a curriculum focused on integrated agricultural systems.
This will include both formal classroom study and field education with on-farm research, crop
scouting, community surveys, and other hands-on educational activities. These research and
education programs are bringing together expertise from throughout the agricultural sector, and
will help to build the human capital needed for tomorrow's food production systems.

Resource Materials
Carter, H.; and C. Francis, eds. 1995. Everyone a Teacher, Everyone a Learner. N.C. Region
SARE Program, Center for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Edwards, C. A.; R. Lal; P. Madden; R. H. Miller; and G. House, eds. 1990. Sustainable
Agricultural Systems. Soil and Water Conservation Society, Ankeney, Iowa.
Francis, C. A.; C. B. Flora; and L. D. King, eds. 1990. Sustainable Agriculture in Temperate
Zones. John Wiley and Sons, New York.
Francis, C.; R. Janke; V. Mundy; and J. King, eds. 1995. Alternative Approaches to On-Farm
Research and Technology Exchange. N.C. Region SARE and ACE Program, Center for
Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Jackson, W. 1994. Becoming Native to this Place. University of Kentucky Press, Lexington,
King, J. W.; and C. A. Francis, eds. 1994. Extension and Education Materials for Sustainable
Agriculture, Vol. 1 and 2. N.C. Region SARE and ACE Programs, Center for Sustainable
Agricultural Systems, University of NebraskañLincoln.
Soule, J. D.; and J. K. Piper. 1992. Farming in Nature's Image: An Ecological Approach to
Agriculture. Island Press, Covelo, California.

About the Authors
Dr. Charles Francis is a professor of agronomy and the director of the Center for Sustainable
Agricultural Systems at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has worked on sorghum, pearl
millet, crop rotations, and design of future systems. His current focus on field, farm, and
watershed design is directed toward an environmentally sound agriculture as part of long-term
sustainable development. Dr. Francis was a staff member of the International Center for Tropical
Agriculture in Colombia for seven years, working on corn, beans, and cropping systems. His
doctoral study at Cornell University included work in the Philippines on corn breeding and work
in Colombia on corn adaptation.

Dr. James King is an associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Institute of
Agriculture and Natural Resources, Communications and Information Technology Unit. During
the past 25 years, he has worked and taught at the Universities of Hawaii and Nebraska, Indiana
University, and Mashed University (Iran). He has traveled and worked overseas for a number of
organizations, including the Food and Agricultural Organization, Arthur D. Little, and UNESCO.
His current research interests are in the area of communication, distance learning, and
sustainable agriculture and development. He recently completed a SARE project on Extension
and education materials for sustainable agriculture.

Heidi Carter is the education coordinator for Sustainable Agriculture Systems at the University
of Nebraska-Lincoln, with responsibility for coordinating a 12-state regional training project in
sustainable agriculture. Before coming to the University of Nebraska, she was an education
coordinator and education/research technician at the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in
Poteau, Oklahoma.

Lisa Brown Jasa is the former communications specialist for the North Central Region of the
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program and a communications
associate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Steve Waller is assistant dean and director of the Agricultural Research Division and associate
dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at the University of

The Groundwater Guardian Program: Sustainable Community Action

Susan Seacrest

Ground water needs champions! An often-forgotten but critical resource, ground water supplies
drinking water for half of all Americans. The best place to protect it is within the communities by
local citizens who understand the geographic issues associated with its use.

With this as a guiding philosophy, the Nebraska-based Groundwater Foundation has developed a
program to promote community-based ground water protection solutions on a nationwide basis.
Through the program, known as Groundwater Guardian, the Foundation provides support and
recognition for communities taking extraordinary care of their ground water source. The program
also enables the Foundation to address the national need for a vital, sustainable network of such
communities and their citizens. The program was designed to be process, not product, oriented;
inclusive, not exclusive; and, most importantly, community driven. The Groundwater Foundation
serves as a catalyst and organizer, but the participating communities own the program, the
process, and the lifelong benefits. Ground water is an appropriate resource for a national
community recognition program because ground water is the environmental bottom line.
Because of this importance, a community that actively prevents pollution of its ground water is
also effectively managing its toxics, solid waste, nonpoint source pollution, and surface water.

Communities are encouraged to enter the program regardless of the status of their ground water
protection process. Whether citizens need to begin the protection process by building community
awareness or by implementing a completed wellhead protection plan, they will use local
expertise and resources and have the opportunity to connect with others engaged in similar
activities across the country.

Community-driven involvement begins with the forming of a Groundwater Guardian team. This
must be a diverse group, comprising representatives from citizen groups, local government,
educational institutions, and local business, industry, and agriculture. For many communities, the
team may be an existing committee or organization.

Annual entry forms must be submitted to the Foundation by February. The brief form asks for
information about the community, its ground water supply and problems, and how the program
can help the community address these problems. The form also requires a listing of the team
members. Once the entry form has been accepted by the Foundation, the community team
identifies existing ground water protection issues and then develops a plan of result-oriented
activities (ROAs) to address these issues effectively through time. This plan is unique to each
community, but must have measurable outcomes. Five areas for potential ROA development are

identified in the 1995 Community Guide to Groundwater Guardian: education and awareness,
best management practices, conservation, public policy, and pollution prevention.

The Groundwater Foundation information and support services are organized around these
community-level plans. Substantive progress toward planned goals will mean Groundwater
Guardian designation for the community in both local and national awards ceremonies.
Annually, prospective and existing Groundwater Guardian communities will meet for the
purpose of Groundwater Guardian designation, public accolades, and networking. At this annual
meeting, effective and innovative Groundwater Guardian projects will be presented and new
communities will be recruited.

Nineteen ninety-four served as a test year for the program. From an un-incorporated rural
community in North Carolina to an Indian tribe in Oregon, from a basin in California to a
township in Ontario, eight communities were selected to test the Groundwater Guardian process.
In keeping with the program's broad definition of community, they provided an effective test for
the program.

One test community was Seward County, Nebraska. For their activity, the Seward County team
chose to keep unused paint out of the local landfill, which was situated perilously close to the
community's drinking water supply. As they made their plan of action, they first thought of a
paint exchange, with citizens gathering to exchange colors. But because diverse interests were
represented during the planning process, what actually happened was even better! The local
hardware store manager agreed to mix compatible paint colors and chemistries to reduce the
unwanted paint to more manageable quantities. The local high school principal offered to
organize teams of youth to paint homes, garages, and fences for elderly and low-income people
in the community. The local Wal-Mart manager, wanting to be part of this worthy effort, offered
to pay minimum wage to the youth after they completed a certain number of painting projects.
Seward County achieved ground water protection, community beautification, and a summer jobs
program through the citizens' willingness to work together.

Protecting ground water requires an understanding of the past and a commitment to doing the
right thing in the present. And, most importantly, because of the time needed to see the results of
stewardship, protecting ground water requires strong faith in the future. More than fifty
communities had this belief in their future and entered the program for 1995. They represent a
broad spectrum of sizes, locations, and areas, as did the eight 1994 Groundwater Guardians.
Twenty-seven U.S. states, from Rhode Island to Hawaii, and one Canadian province are
represented. The Great Plains are well represented in the 1995 program, with communities in
Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Prospects for 1996 include many communities from
the region.

Hundreds of persons talked with the Groundwater Foundation staff about their communities and
the Groundwater Guardian program during the November to February sign-up period. Not all

were ready to enter the program in 1995. These communities and many more now can begin to
prepare for entering the program in 1996. Steps for communities to take in that preparation
process include receiving a copy of A Community Guide to Groundwater Guardian from the
Groundwater Foundation, forming a Groundwater Guardian team, and determining who will be
the coordinating organization. After the community team is formed, ground water protection
activities already underway or planned can be identified and implemented. Attending the 1995
Groundwater Guardian Conference in Chicago on November 19-21, 1995, is another way to
learn more about the program. Communities can also call the Groundwater Foundation at 1 (800)
858-4844 anytime.

The Groundwater Guardian program goal is to have thousands of communities proudly
displaying the distinctive Groundwater Guardian logo. Each roadside or water tower sign
carrying the logo will represent an engaged, diverse group of citizens actively caring about and
for ground water. These citizens will also represent a powerful force for grassroots action and
political change, benefiting the ground water that nourishes the Great Plains ecosystem and

About the Author
Susan Seacrest founded the Groundwater Foundation in 1985 and has served as its president
since then. Under her direction, the Foundation has become a nationally known, well-respected
voice for public ground water education. The Foundation's most popular project, the Children's
Groundwater Festival (the first of its kind in the United States), has become an international
model of hands-on environmental education. Ms. Seacrest's expertise in ground water education
has been recognized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency through her
appointment to two national EPA advisory boards, including the National Drinking Water
Advisory Council. She was also appointed to a six-year term on the Nebraska Environmental
Trust Board of Directors. Ms. Seacrest has provided technical assistance to the National
Geographic Society's film division as part of the National Geographic Society Freshwater
Initiative, and she has worked with National Public Radio on a special freshwater program.

Reverse Engineering the Sustainable Development Process: Adapting
Eight Decades of Experience to Enhance the Future

Jim Webber and Dave Hill

The Eastern Irrigation District (EID), located in semiarid southern Alberta, Canada, is adapting
80 years of integrated water and land management experience to enhance the economic, social,
and environmental benefits of a 1.5 million acre region. Commenced in the early 1900s as a
settlement project by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company Ltd., the present day EID delivers
water to more than 270,000 acres of irrigated farmland, provides the water distribution and
storage network for a regional population in excess of 20,000 people, meets the water
requirements of a thriving livestock industry, manages the irrigation network as the lifeline for
more than 40,000 acres of critical wetland habitat, and provides the land and water base for
expanding outdoor recreation activities. In addition to its water management mandate, the EID
owns and manages more than 600,000 acres of native and improved rangeland, making it,
governments excepted, the largest private landowner in Alberta.

In practical terms, the EID has succeeded in managing important and vital natural resources in an
integrated and sustainable manner. The water management network of weirs, canals, reservoirs,
wetlands, and drains, in combination with the management of native and improved rangeland,
has led to a dynamic and interdependent economic, social, and environmental fabric. This type
and extent of development would not have been possible but for the diversion of water from the
Bow River into the EID region and the practical common sense that has been employed by
successive farmer-elected directors of the EID. It has been a "grassroots" development, worked
from the bottom up - a partnership between the land, the settlers, and the environment they
created to live in.

Since the early 1900s and the initial construction of the irrigation network, this region has
adapted to shifting trends. Throughout this period of time, the EID has allowed integrated
resource management to evolve as a natural component of irrigated farming. Today's shifting
trend to "sustainable development" is engineering a new impetus for continued refinements to
resource management practices - but it also underlines a concern that the existing delicate
working balance could be destroyed.

In today's EID, water handling capabilities are being improved. New technologies are being
implemented. Computer simulation models are being set up to help system managers and
operators test alternative resource management practices and determine their potential affects
before implementation. These initiatives, exercised with care, should ensure that current benefits

are sustained and enhanced for future generations. Working to manage limited resources and
achieve multiple benefits is at the heart of EID's desire to demonstrate sustainable development.

This chapter demonstrates the extent to which such development and management procedures
have been successfully implemented in the EID. It explores what is currently being done to
ensure that the EID continues its tradition of integrated resource management practices. We will
also suggest how such broad-based integrated resource management objectives can be achieved
in other locations. This chapter is not based on a theoretical examination of what might be
possible. Instead, it dissects and "reverse engineers" the elements of eight decades of experience
in support of present-day and future needs for sustainable development.

              Sustainable Development and Integrated Resource Management
Much has been written about sustainable development during the past decade. The definitions,
focus, and initiatives related to sustainable development shift and change in many jurisdictions
throughout North America. The varying definitions are based on the economic, social,
environmental, and political realities of each region. Regardless of the definition, sustainable
development suggests a condition wherein the decisions undertaken today do not prevent
possible alternative decisions in the future. In addition, it is generally accepted that sustainable
development is driven by a need to demonstrate increased environmental awareness in our
day-to-day lives and decision making. Sustainable development is preferable to the perceived
types of developments and decisions that have been undertaken. For example, there is an
underlying assumption that many developments have not been sustainable. Our current focus on
sustainable development is returning us to an era of pioneering spirit. Most of us are personally
acquainted, either through our families or other associations, with people who pushed settlement
into the North American Great Plains during the past 100 years. The drive and initiative of those
early settlers are the elements that need to be re-created to meet today's challenges.

Today we are less concerned with pure settlement and livelihood issues. We are becoming more
cognizant of quality of life and environmental issues. Meeting the challenges posed by increased
environmental sustainability for current and future developments will require a broad view of our
current resources, strengths, and weaknesses. This inventory must also be combined with the
sensitivity and understanding that the different aspects of our lives, economies, and the
environment are highly interdependent. Maintaining an appropriate balance between these
important components is vital. Success in demonstrating sustainable development will require
that issues be looked at from both "macro" (regional) and "micro" (local) perspectives.
Sustainable development, in every practical meaning of the term, suggests that the resources that
are available need to be managed and viewed in an integrated fashion - relying on their
respective values, strengths, and adaptability, and within the context of well-understood and
broadly supported objectives.

Sustainable development need not be thought of as a "theory only" approach to resource
management and planning. The EID has practiced an integrated approach to resource
management throughout much of its eight decades of operation. Our experience suggests that

sustainable development can only be accomplished on the foundation of such an approach. The
EID is currently involved in refining the management structures of its operations. This will
ensure that a multiple-purpose (integrated) approach to resource management and allocation
continues to be practiced. As a result, the significant benefits to the region and its citizens are not
only maintained but effectively enhanced.

The EID has been able to achieve and demonstrate many of the aspects of sustainable
development throughout much of its eighty years of operation. Many of the benefits of
sustainable development that are currently valued in the region were created with water and land
acting as the catalyst to development. Ensuring that resources are managed in a manner that best
guarantees a broad scale of success is a major day-to-day and long-term function of the EID.

The EID is located in the southeast corner of the province of Alberta, Canada (Figure 1). The
EID's region of jurisdiction is approximately 1.5 million acres (2,345 square miles). The EID is a
non-government, wholly autonomous organization, incorporated under the provisions of the
Irrigation Act (Chapter I-11, RSA 1980), a statute of Alberta. It is operated by an elected board
of directors selected from the irrigators in the region. It is managed on a day-to-day and
year-round basis by a professional staff of about 85 persons.

Figure 1. The EID’s region of jurisdiction and mission statement.

              The Current Status of Achievements in Sustainable Development
The EID region benefits from an integrated resource management approach. The diversion of
water from the Bow River into lands that are naturally deficient of water, but rich in soil texture
and heat units, has acted as a catalyst to transform the once-barren prairie into a region of diverse
and substantial benefits. Although the EID's main focus of operations is the management of a
water distribution network in support of irrigated agriculture, it has been able to adapt its
operations to ensure that as much benefit as possible accrues to the region through the
management of the available resources. Our primary client, the irrigator, is a member of the same
community. What we do, and how we do it, also enhances his community and improves his
quality of life.

The status of achievements in sustainable development are reviewed in this chapter, based on the
following categories: crop production and agribusiness; range management; recreation
developments; wetlands, wildlife, and environmental enhancements; and water management

In keeping with this integrated resource management approach, it is important to remember that
none of the resources in the region is mutually exclusive of the others. Each of the components
of the region exists and thrives based on the success of the interaction of the components.

Crop Production and Agribusiness
Irrigated agriculture commenced in the EID region in 1915. It coincided with the completion of
the initial system construction. Before water diversions into the region, the area now
encompassed by the EID was native prairie, with little or no standing water in the entire 1.5
million acre region. Original surveys of the region undertaken by the Dominion Government
before the turn of the century had created the impression that the region was "devoid of timber or
pasturage of good quality." In fact, Captain John Palliser, who led the expedition, noted that
"settlement of the area lying south of lands along the North Saskatchewan River should be
avoided." The entire EID region, and all of southern Alberta, falls within the land surveyed by
Palliser. His vision of the future, however, did not take into account the ambitions of those who
wanted to settle in the region and make it work for them.

Irrigation grew gradually during the early administration of the Canadian Pacific Railway Co.
Ltd. (CPR). The fertile soils, abundant heat, and diverted water allowed the region to begin its
transformation to a virtual oasis. Since 1935, when the administration of the irrigation network
was turned over to irrigators, the amount of land irrigated annually has gradually increased.
Today, more than 270,000 acres of land are irrigated. Although initial cropping patterns in the
region showed a large dependence on cereal grains, the crop diversity has steadily increased.
Along with the primary agricultural production has come an expanding value-added agribusiness

and food processing sector. The economic ties between on-farm production and agricultural
product processing are continuing to grow and to gain in importance. In the EID region, much of
the direct linking between production and processing takes place within the various sectors of the
beef industry.

Irrigated crops are grown on about 4% of Alberta's arable lands, but they account for more than
16% of the total value of primary agricultural production. In southern Alberta, the total economic
contribution from irrigated agriculture expands and ripples throughout the economy because of
the high integration of value-added agribusiness with on-farm production. Recent statistics
indicate that, on average, 80% of the value-added agri-businesses in southern Alberta are directly
linked to irrigated agriculture.

Within the Eastern Irrigation District the same interdependence exists. In 1994, the EID
completed an economic evaluation of the "value" of the irrigation system to the regional
economy. This report indicated that the Can$219 million in gross farm production translates into
Can$1.03 billion in total regional economic activity associated with the irrigation infrastructure.
Based on the diversions of water for the same period, each acre foot of water accounted for
approximately Can$1,790 in economic activity. The high level of integration between primary
production and value-added agri-industries affects cropping patterns. In 1994, crop diversity in
the EID region was classified as follows:
      60% forages - directly related to the beef cattle industry
      23% cereal - as a component of crop rotation, export, and feed grains
      10% oil seeds - primarily canola, to meet an expanding global demand for vegetable oils
      7% specialty crops - ranging from market gardens to pedigreed seed production

It is important to recognize that evaluating the social and economic contributions of agriculture
offers only a small part of the overall picture of the benefits of multiple purpose and integrated
resource management. The same irrigation network is also the only water supply to meet the
needs of many other important components in the level of sustainable development that has been
achieved and now needs to be protected and refined.

Range Management
Some of the largest areas of native prairie in western Canada are owned and operated by the EID.
Part of the regional legacy that the CPR left to the founders of the EID was a large tract of native
range. This land, currently more than 600,000 acres, meets the needs of domestic cattle,
waterfowl, wildlife, and recreationists while providing a measure of long-term economic stability
in support of the operation, maintenance, and rebuilding of the canal system.

EID-owned rangelands are managed jointly between the district and a number of other "tenant"
organizations. Much of the grass resource is leased to 10 community grazing associations as

summer pasture. As we noted earlier, the overall agricultural value of these lands is limited
because of a general lack of water throughout the region. By careful management of diverted
water volumes, water has been distributed throughout the native prairie to improve range use
while forming the foundation for more than 40,000 acres of critical wetland habitat - habitat that
would not exist without the infusion of water.

Many species of wildlife also use these large areas of range. Deer, antelope, coyotes, foxes,
ground squirrels, prairie falcons, various species of hawks, and even threatened species such as
burrowing owls all make use of the native prairie and the infused water supplies. In addition to
these activities, this land base is used for hiking and horseback riding, consumptive and
non-consumptive uses of wildlife, and a significantly sized oil and gas industry. The EID's
approach to resource management has allowed common management of many resources, thus
allowing for the widest range of benefits possible from the same land base while still recognizing
that each component may have areas of particular interest that need special attention and

Recreation Developments
Without the diversion of water from the Bow River in support of irrigated agriculture, there
would be no water within the region. The presence of water, combined with the natural
advantages of sun and heat in southeast Alberta, has lead to expanding water-based recreation
activities. The EID's canal system contains 13 internal storage reservoirs of varying sizes that are
used for a number of activities, including sport fishing (year-round); boating, sailing, and water
skiing; camping, swimming, and hiking; lakeshore-located resort developments; and significant
bird-watching opportunities. Recreation at irrigation facilities is on the increase. For many years
- nearly a century - irrigation reservoirs were one of the "best-kept secrets" in the province
because they provided recreation opportunities. The increase in urban populations looking for a
quieter place to spend their weekends is now leading an exodus into the rural regions.

Water-based recreation is among the fastest-growing activities. The favorable climate, limited
rainfall, and secure water supplies associated with the irrigated areas of the Eastern Irrigation
District make them popular destinations. A study published in 1993 suggests that recreation
activity expenditures at Lake Newell (the EID's largest storage reservoir) amounted to almost
$1.1 million dollars - and that was during a summer with higher-than-average rainfall. In fact, the
popularity of irrigation facilities is growing at such a rate that less than 20% of the recreation
users are from the local area (McNaughton, 1993).

In addition to the reservoir-based recreation activities, the other components of the irrigation
network are also increasing in popularity. Bird watchers have become avid members of the
irrigated landscape recreation family. The diversity of bird species that can be viewed on a given
day is hard to find in other regions of Alberta. Bird-watching groups make annual treks to the
region's many wetland and prairie areas to catch a glimpse of their favorite species. In addition to
the birds, other wildlife are also readily available for viewing. It is not uncommon to see more

wildlife or more types of wildlife in one day in the EID region than you could during the same
day in Banff National Park.

Interest in new recreation opportunities at irrigation facilities has also provided the impetus for
new reservoir-based resort developments. The Lake Newell Resort is nearing its first full year of
operation with year-round homes, summer cottages, and the largest inland marina in the
province. In addition, it is providing for new public access and recreation facilities and is
drawing new economic activities to the region. All of this is being accomplished within the same
water management system that supports irrigated agriculture, thus adding to the overall benefits
enjoyed in the region.

Wetlands, Wildlife, and Environmental Enhancements
Before the construction of the irrigation network, the extent of wetlands and wildlife in the EID
region was minimal. The absence of any water in the region reduced the capability of the area to
support wildlife populations, and wetlands would have been virtually nonexistent. Irrigation
developments changed all that. The initial construction techniques used by the Canadian Pacific
Railway Co. Ltd. meant that a certain amount of water leaked from the canal system. As this
leaked water formed ponds in low areas along the canal, new vegetation emerged and wetlands
began to be formed. These areas soon became vital to the species of plants and animals that made
these new "wet" areas their homes.

After the irrigation project was transferred to the local control of area irrigators in 1935, the
farming community needed to find other partners who had the interest and means to assist with
the operational costs of the canal system. The mid-1930s were not kind to agriculture and were
equally unkind, through drought, to wildlife and wetlands. By the early 1940s a relationship
between the Eastern Irrigation District and Ducks Unlimited was being cultivated. The first joint
farmer-conservation organization project in the EID was the Lake San Francisco Project just
west of Brooks. Funding for the project came from the Ducks Unlimited California organization.
The project provided a managed wetland area for waterfowl and secure stock-watering supplies
in strategic locations for range cattle, thus increasing the carrying capacity and sustainability of
the native prairie. These types of projects have continued over the past 50 years, and today the
EID region showcases more than 40,000 acres of managed critical wetland habitat.

The focus on wildlife and other environmental considerations is not limited to waterfowl alone.
A recently completed bird guide lists more than 240 species of birds that frequent the EID region
and its irrigation network. Management plans for habitat areas now include the wetlands as well
as the upland areas. Grazing management plans also consider the needs of wildlife and bird
species. In some areas, native range has been augmented by irrigated pasture to increase the
habitat values, add to the flexibility of range management options, and broaden the base of
multiple purpose resource management success.

The extent of cooperation has also broadened. Although the initial habitat projects were
primarily the result of a partnership between the EID and Ducks Unlimited, the federal
government, Alberta's Fish and Wildlife Service, conservation organizations, local irrigators, and
landowners have also joined in the initiatives. It is not likely that the benefits that exist today
could have been achieved without such cooperation. The cooperative "you scratch my back, I'll
scratch yours" approach has translated into a much higher demonstration of long-term success
than a regulatory approach. Regulatory approaches that are designed to control development and
force outcomes lack the proactive energies that are required to achieve and demonstrate
sustainable development. As is the case with the water-based recreation opportunities, few of
those who make use of and enjoy the wetlands, wildlife, and environmental enhancements in the
EID region realize that the benefits exist as a consequence of and in direct relation to irrigated

Water Management Status
All of the water diverted into the EID region comes from the Bow River. The point of diversion
is at the Bassano Dam, located at the northwestern corner of the Eastern Irrigation District (see
Figure 1). The irrigation network consists of almost 1,200 miles of canals, along with an almost
equal length of drains, spillways, and return flow channels. Thirteen internal storage reservoirs
are part of the canal system.

The irrigation network is operated to provide water for irrigated agriculture and rural, household,
and municipal use for a regional population of more than 20,000 people; for industrial water
requirements; and to meet the needs of wetlands/habitat and recreation. Although the operation
and maintenance of the canal system is primarily driven by irrigated crop water priorities, the
overall management structure includes recognition of the other uses of water in the region.

Water management in Alberta has been under increasing scrutiny as the public has become more
interested in protection of the environment. During the past 15 years there has been a concerted
effort to improve the water management and water handling capabilities of the EID canal system.
Major canal rebuilding programs have been undertaken to ensure that limited water supplies
meet as many needs as possible.

The canal system and its operation is in a state of evolution. Until recently, water management
decisions were made by numerous field staff through a "hands on" approach based on the needs
of their respective areas. This has changed so that the system is now operated as a whole, and
"high tech" applications are used wherever they can be shown to improve service, save water, or
meet other water needs.

Because of the overall length of the EID canal system, methods to better match water supplies
with demands have lead to implementation of computer and remote-controlled water
management structures. Eleven such sites will be operational in 1995. Diversions of water or
releases of storage will be timed to arrive when they are needed, instead of being sent either early

or late to account for the normal hours of operation. In addition, drainage channels returning to
the river are monitored to evaluate canal operations, on-farm operations, and weather impacts.
The intent of the EID's water management practices is to be accountable and audit the many
benefits that are derived from the finite water supply - and to ensure that such needs are met on a
basis consistent with multiple purpose resource management.

A Historical Synopsis of the Development of the Eastern Irrigation District
The present-day Eastern Irrigation District began as a project of the Canadian Pacific Railway
Co. Ltd. During the early years of the Dominion of Canada, the federal government wanted to
bring unity to the entire country through the building of a transcontinental railway. To finance
the project, the CPR was to be compensated through land grants. It was the CPR's job to find the
private investors to come up with the cash to build the railway, and then to develop lands for
settlement. The settlement activities were intended to return money to the railway through land
sale contracts as well as shipping contracts for goods and services.

Much of the land grant in western Canada fell within the region that had been named the Palliser
Triangle. This region of the prairies was so named because of the earlier surveys of the region by
Captain John Palliser. His characterization of the region suggested that settlement of the area was
to be avoided, primarily because of the lack of water that he saw as being vital for any kind of
settlement. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on one's point of view) the lands granted to
the CPR were primarily located within this semiarid region.

With the railway built and investors looking for their financial returns, the railway engineers
sought ways to promote settlement in the region. Railway surveyors applied their track trade to
canal alignments and trestle technology for flumes and aqueducts. The region had an abundance
of unsettled lands, good soils, and favorable heat and crop growing conditions - if only water
could be brought to the land. As a result, the CPR embarked on an ambitious program to
establish "irrigation" as the future of the region. In southern Alberta, the CPR's interests covered
most of southeastern Alberta, an area stretching from Calgary almost to Medicine Hat. For
practical reasons, the project was divided into three regions: the western region, central region,
and eastern region. Mainly because of uncertainty of land tenure and proximity to lands reserved
for Treaty Seven Nations, no work was commenced in the central region. Work in the other
regions commenced, and these areas have since become the Western and Eastern Irrigation

Work on the eastern region began with the building of the Bassano Dam in May 1910. The
Bassano Dam is located at the eastern edge of the Blackfoot Nation on the banks of the Bow
River at a place referred to as the Horseshoe Bend. The natural topography of the region made it
a prime location to erect a large diversion structure and allowed much of the area to the east,
north, and south to fall "below the ditch." In the next six-year period, much of the irrigation
system that exists and operates today was built - a feat of engineering and brute human strength.

Looking back in time, the construction methods that were available at the time have proved to be
vital in the transition of the region and in the first tastes of what we today wish to call
"sustainable development." The compaction equipment that is used today, along with the ability
to control seepage from canals and handle water in a timely fashion, did not exist during the
early stages of development. Besides, water was in abundance, and the project needed to be
constructed as quickly as possible in order to promote settlement of the region. The new canals
did move water, and there were control structures, gates, dikes, dams, and reservoirs. In many
cases, however, the canals leaked and created ponds in the low areas along the canal's length.
The canals themselves were designed and located to take advantage of the natural topography.
Land was not a problem - it too was in abundance, so there was little concern about canals that
fingered out across the prairie, and little concern about the comparatively small amounts of water
that leaked out of the system.

The push for settlement was on. As soon as the CPR had the initial works constructed, they
began a worldwide campaign to attract settlement to the region. The settlers came, and water was
first delivered to irrigation farms in 1916. In the early years, the irrigation project appeared to be
headed for success. The railway company had been able to show that the lands they received as
compensation for railway building could be developed to provide a return on investment. People
certainly seemed interested in settling in the area - and crops did flourish. The irrigation project,
however, soon became an irrigation experiment. Global economic conditions took a drastic
downturn and irrigators had trouble maintaining their land contracts with the CPR. Add to this
the onslaught of the drought of the late 1920s and early to mid-1930s, and the CPR found
themselves in the position of having more commitments than they could hope to recover from
their clients. The CPR began looking for a way out of this now "resource-draining" initiative.

Irrigators in the region realized that water was the only thing that would allow them any chance
for a measure of success. They also seemed to know instinctively that if the project were in their
hands they would manage it quite differently from the large railway company. Negotiations
commenced to see if an agreement could be struck that would turn the project over to the local

Many meetings took place. The meetings and "hard bargaining" culminated in an agreement that
saw the irrigators take control of the project in 1935. The CPR, for its part, had limited its
long-term financial commitment to the administration, operation, and maintenance of the system
by granting it to the new "Eastern Irrigation District." In addition to giving away the canal
network, the CPR provided about two years' operating capital and the balance of the CPR's lands
that had not been sold. Now success depended solely on the initiative of the local irrigators.

At the time the irrigators took over control of the project, much of the initial canal work was still
in fairly good shape. Land contracts (now the collection responsibility of the new EID) were still
much in default, and it did not appear that annual rates could be increased enough to cover all the
operating costs of the system. As such, the new directors of the corporation, elected from the
irrigators, set about finding ways to operate "cheaply" by making as much use of the resources at

their disposal as possible. Grazing schemes were developed - but to be effective, water had to be
brought out into the native prairie regions. Partners to assist with these costs were found in
conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited.

The leaking canals also proved to be a boon in attracting cattlemen to the area. There was
abundant grassland along the canal system and water was available in low areas. The water in
these low areas had produced trees and shrubs that provided shelter for the animals, as well as for
wildlife. Any idea that helped operate the system or raise some capital from some source other
than the "hard-pressed irrigator" was searched out, found, and implemented. It was, in many
ways, a question of survival - but in hindsight it was the basis for the highly integrated approach
to resource management that is practiced today. The legacy of the early irrigators that continues
today has been one of the merits of "Common Sense for the Common Good." It could be said
that sustainable development in our region had its origins by default; there was no other means to
achieve success.

Irrigation today is much more than agriculture. In the EID it is communities, industries,
wetlands, wildlife, waterfowl, fish, recreation, and much more. The components of the successful
irrigation package include:
      Lifestyle
      Community security (water = jobs)
      Value-added industry
      Diversification potential, much of which is not related to agriculture
      A significant and sustained payback to a larger community

The town of Brooks, the major urban center for the region, recognizes the importance of water to
the community through its adopted slogan, "Where Water Works Wonders."

                        Emerging Threats and Potential Consequences
It is not common to refer to some aspects of increased concern for the environment as a "threat" -
in some circles such a statement is considered heresy, or at least naive. In terms of moving
toward sustainable development, however, facets of environmental concern can get out of hand
and may end up actually worsening the current situations. This appears to be the case in much of
western Canada, where environmental activism (not resource management and conservation) is
attempting to "turn back the clock" and "right the wrongs of the past."

Alberta appears poised to soon leave its current "geo-legal" time period. It is still in the
pre-litigation era, but is fast approaching the time where only the decisions of courts will bear
any weight in achieving objectives. It appears, from our perspective, that we are being exposed
to a new environmental ethic - one that accepts as its baseline assumption that mankind is
ultimately the cause of today's problems. We do not want to suggest that there is nothing wrong

with the environment, or that we are doing the best job possible in all instances. We are,
however, strongly suggesting that unless one adopts the position that we, as individuals and
organizations, are vital to the solutions and to the success of the future, we have little chance of
improving on our current situations.

To gain an appreciation for how sustainable development can be accomplished, it is important to
look at the hurdles that might need to be crossed along the way. A significant hurdle to changing
attitudes and progress appears to be embodied in the narrow-focused environmental activist
organizations who want to win their cause at all (or any) cost. History has already shown that in
many (if not most) instances, the consequences of their actions are not borne by those raising the
issue. They are not directly affected. In fact, often they don't even live anywhere near the area or
region that they attack to preserve or redress. In addition to the concerns that may be raised, this
adversarial approach to problem resolution naturally puts people on their guard, protecting what
they have. All of the energies and resources are focused on the problem - not on the solutions.

The adversarial negative initiatives, however, are often successful. Even without actual proof of
problems with the environment, many environmental activists are chasing their own personal
agendas, without regard to the overall needs of society. They attract the attention of the media,
they are skilled at using the laws of land to express their narrow points of view, and they often
have governments running scared. As a result, many North American jurisdictions find
themselves now burdened with "top down" approaches to issue resolution. Governments are
being pressured to reallocate resources and remake decisions. They attempt to resolve conflicts
through planning, but tend to "act" based on departmental and sector lines. Often, instead of
government involvement in issue resolution leading to integration, the normal result is that
various branches of a government compete with each other.

Governments have also become prone to a belief that problems can be solved through
regulations. There is a widely held belief in government circles that "rules" and "penalties" are
the best tools to achieve change. No one really likes to be told what to do. We all have a natural
tendency to dislike rules and to fight them. Often, when enforcement leads to conflict, no one
can remember why the rules were created in the first place. Given the changes in economic
realities facing governments at all levels, perhaps now is the time to give the problems back to
those who can solve them. People - ordinary people, local citizens, residents, and so forth - need
to find solutions to environmental and developmental issues by encouragement and innovation.
We will all be better served by harnessing the energies and resources of people, instead of
exhausting them in the courts.

In looking at the public's concern about the environment, water quality, air quality, quality of
life, biological diversity, and the host of other "buzz words," one does not have to look any
further than water to recognize how a narrow focus on issues can skew the results, or prevent one
from achieving any objectives. Water gives life. Water knows no boundaries. In dealing with
water issues we find that they are prone to conflict. A look at the interests of some of the players
in the water arena gives us a clue to some of the problems we experience:

      Governments are turf-driven - each department, agency, or commission is interested in its
       mission statement, and the various mission statements are more likely to be competitive
       rather than integrated.
      Allocation of water is volume-driven and assumes that someone else has more than they
       need or deserve, or that they are more in need or more deserving.
      Fisheries are river-focused and seldom look beyond the banks to evaluate overall societal
       objectives or take a hard look at the tradeoffs (we in Canada watch with great interest the
       numerous studies and competitions that are ongoing in the Pacific Northwest and a
       segment of society's current preoccupation with salmon).
      Agriculture is crop-based, with farmers and irrigators concerned with what can be grown
       to make money this year and, in many cases, feeling at the mercy of governments around
       the world and being threatened out of existence (they could become our next endangered
      Recreation is parks-oriented, with some parks requiring water and others not, but they
       are considered almost sacred in many parts of the country and are not to be jeopardized
       by letting too many people use them.
      Industry tends to be municipally directed with availability of water sometimes used to
       entice business or industry to a particular community without full regard for the regional
      Municipalities themselves are preoccupied with water as a price/cost issue.
      The population turns on the tap and expects the water to be there.
      The planners that are called in to help solve the conflicts don't want to offend anybody.

As a result, we spend most of our time understanding the problems down to the most minute
details and making sure everyone has a chance to voice their concerns about what the problem is
and what causes it, and actually very little time deriving the solutions. It is not uncommon that
the outcome of a planning or conflict resolution exercise only manages to establish blame, and it
is universally the other person's fault.

As stated earlier, this adversarial approach pits people's energies and resources against one
another, not in favor of the resources being fought over. Local and regional decision making is
reduced. We become trapped by needing the government or the courts to come up with all of the
answers. Narrowly focused initiatives do not consider the significant third party and the
subsequent impacts that often occur. With water knowing no boundaries, who speaks for these
other impacts, who evaluates or even considers the "tradeoffs"? Whenever we are seduced into
micro-based issue resolution, without an appreciation for macro-based objectives and desired
outcomes, we end up with a situation in which "the tail is wagging the dog" or "we have won the
battle only to lose the war"!

Within the Eastern Irrigation District, a growing number of external influences may lead to an
erosion of the level of sustainable development that we have been able to achieve during the past

80 years. The potential impacts of these influences on the region are significant. There are those
who are standing up and demanding that water allocated to farmers be returned to the rivers to
support the fish. The only interest such voices have is to win their cause. In such a case, what
could be lost? Unilateral or legislated reallocation of water to meet a single use erodes
multiple-purpose resource management objectives and practices. In our region, a loss of water
means less water for wetlands, lakes/reservoir fisheries, recreation and tourism opportunities,
regional economic stability, and agricultural production (existing and potential) and livelihoods.

In our case, this is not the future that we want. It is not the even the current circumstances that
we enjoy. Such conditions were not the desires of those who settled our region and who took the
initiative to make sure that everyone benefits from prudent resource management.

The Elements of Success in Demonstrating and Achieving Sustainable Development
The Eastern Irrigation District, throughout its history, has been able to evolve in a manner that
showcases the advantages and long-term benefits of integrated resource management. The
features of the region that make it attractive to people, business, and wildlife are highly
interdependent. With the proper amount of attention, appreciation, and concern, it will be
possible to ensure that these benefits are extended to future generations and that many new
opportunities can be realized.

An examination of the EID's achievements, placed in the context of the history of its
development, provides insight into how sustainable development can be achieved, or how its
objectives and practices can be refined. In our region, we find it of great value to be able to "look
to the past, to meet the challenges of the future."

      Integrated Resource Management is the Key
Single-purpose resource management practices are no longer acceptable. The benefits that have
been established in the EID region have taken place only as a result of integrating the needs of a
diverse set of interests into an agricultural landscape. The new development and management
ethic must ensure that multiple-purpose resource management is undertaken.

      Challenge the Norm, or at Least Break Old Habits
If the EID's elected directors, local area irrigators, had waited for the government or some other
agency or interest group to point them in a direction, it is unlikely that the irrigation network
would have survived. The EID grew and became viable through self-directed initiative, not
government policy. This was as important then as it is now - self-directed initiative is critical to
the success of the region. As resource managers and those concerned with the future, we should
not wait for others to come up with the solutions to our problems. We should take responsibility
and exercise initiative. We do not need to wait for someone to give us permission - we just need
to get started. If sustainable development is to assist in maintaining the "eco-system," the
solutions, practices, and management efforts need to be both "eco-logical" and "eco-nomic."

      Look for Innovation and Multiobjective Solutions, the Win-Win-Win Approach
There is seldom, if ever, just one solution to a problem. If you set out to look for multiple
solutions to a set of concerns or issues, you are likely to derive solutions that can shift and adapt
to changing conditions. Don't get trapped into believing that somewhere there is a perfect plan or
a perfect process. Resource "accounting" also needs to evolve to the point where it is as broad in
nature as the elements of the resources involved. This is particularly true where water is
concerned. An evaluation of water supplied to irrigated agriculture that only considers primary
crop production ignores the majority of the benefits attributed to water management. This narrow
approach would sacrifice wetlands, fisheries, recreation, and economic stability.

      Educate and Involve the Public
There is a wide gap between public relations and public involvement. Public relations, however,
is sometimes called public involvement when a government, group, or organization wants to sell
people on their ideas, plans, or objectives. To be successful over the long term in achieving
sustainable development requires an open process where the public can become informed and
involved. The key to this involvement is inviting others to be involved, listening to their
concerns, and putting their energies to work in problem resolution. It is important to not
overreact to external criticism. If you are unaware of what others think of your organization it
will be difficult to know what they might expect. Consequently, you will have a hard time
showing how their needs can be met within the context of your operations.

A Sustainable Development Primer/Checklist
The components of the EID's long-term success in integrated resource management include:
      a broad approach to resource management issues (it is not possible to separate water from
       the other resources in the region);
      our ownership of land, which made the integration of land and water management
       activities a "natural" process; and
      a farmer/irrigator-directed organization - the solutions we have looked for have had to be
       of the pragmatic, sensible, common-sense variety.

We have found that by undertaking the risks of leadership we have, over the long term, been able
to act rather than be acted upon. We know that the perceptions of what society wants and
demands are changing, and we are well aware that we need to be part of the solution. Our history
has left us with a cultural need to be proactive. If we had not been, and if we weren't today, the
irrigation network and the social, economic, and environmental benefits of our region would
slowly and surely be eroded and devalued.

                        Current Initiatives, Practicing What We Preach

Having achieved some significant and positive results during the past eight decades, the EID
finds itself in a position where our "default" behavior must become much more deliberate. We
must always be forging ahead with new initiatives if we are to ensure that our region makes the
best use of available water supplies in achieving the broadest and greatest benefits. There is no
standing still - we have to practice what we preach.

      Crop Production and Agribusiness
Governments have long been involved financially with primary agricultural producers. Global
competition in trade has often been influenced by government programs. This has had the effect
of skewing the crops grown and the prices paid, and it affects the economic viability of farmers.
The "debt" load of many developed nations and the movement toward global free trade will
mean that those involved in agriculture will have to look more to fashioning their own destinies
than to relying on governments.

In recognition of the trend toward less government support and intervention, the EID became a
driving factor in the development of the Lake Newell Economic Development Authority. This
corporate partnership with the town of Brooks was intended to capitalize on the features and
advantages of the region to draw in new economic and value-added developments. The going is
sometimes tough, but success is being realized. The local cattle feeding and processing industry
is again in an expansion mode. In addition, there are new grain-based initiatives to produce
alternative fuels.

      Range Management
More emphasis is being placed on increasing range sustainability. Rest/rotation grazing systems,
irrigated pasture, and new wetlands are being implemented. Range management plans are
including upland management practices to increase wildlife values. Access issues are also being
dealt with to ensure that external influences do not adversely affect the native prairie values. In
addition, the EID has commenced initiatives in native seed production and harvesting to assist in
native range reclamation efforts. Oil and gas exploration and production firms are actively
cooperating with the EID to minimize the impacts of their operations on native prairie. These
cooperative initiatives have lead to special siting requirements in recreational areas and in
advancement of multiple well-drilling activities from a single location.

      Recreation Developments
The features of the EID region that attract interest need to be managed to sustain their
productivity. The numbers of people coming to the region for bird watching, wildlife viewing,
water-based recreation, and so forth present a new problem - how do you manage success? The
EID has undertaken initiatives to provide new (and controlled) public access to historical
features. An interpretive facility was built at the site of the Brooks Aqueduct to allow visitors to
gain an appreciation of the engineering accomplishments in the region. The same is true for most
popular bird-watching areas. Trail systems, photography blinds, and viewing platforms have

been built in cooperation with local interest groups to promote the wetland and wildlife values in
a way that does not adversely affect what people are actually coming to see. In addition, the
demands for new lake-based development are being pursued in a deliberate manner to ensure that
flexibility of operations is not compromised. It would be contrary to integrated resource
management practices to allow for any particular use to impede the other uses that initially
created its value. If a reservoir exists to meet the needs of irrigated agriculture, it makes no sense
to allow recreation developments to restrict the operation of the facility - that would lead to a
reduction in net benefits to the region.

      Wetlands, Wildlife, and Environmental Enhancements, Helping Mother Nature
       Help Herself
Even though much has been accomplished in this area, there is much work yet to do. To help
push the effort ahead, the Eastern Irrigation District added a wildlife projects manager to its staff
in 1990. The function of this person is to collect information about wildlife values in the region
and to assist in developing operational plans that also consider the needs of wildlife, in addition
to irrigation requirements.

The new focus on wetlands and wildlife is less in the creation of new facilities and more in the
refinement of operation of existing sites - making better use of limited water supplies, adding
upland management criteria to improve wildlife success, and looking to the value of linear
habitat. Linear habitat goes hand in hand with canal design and operation. Properly accounted
for, it is possible to allow habitat with the canal rights-of-way in a manner that supports the
previously incidental habitat and also provides for wildlife movement corridors free from
farming activities.

The EID is also involved in research activities to find alternate methods to control aquatic and
surface weeds and vegetation and to improve water quality. The EID is involved in research on
the use of grass carp (white amur) as a biological method to control aquatic vegetation. The EID
has also made a commitment to provide regular public information through publication of a
widely circulated newsletter, the WaterLine, and is soon to release the first of its Stewardship
Series of Publications. These publications are intended to provide information to people and
organizations to assist them in enhancing environmental and wildlife conditions through
individual initiative. The first such publication is "Making a Place for Pheasants."

      Value-Added Water Management
The Eastern Irrigation District has chosen to get involved in water management on a much
broader scale than solely within our own region and area of jurisdiction. The EID is a founding
member of the Bow River Water Quality Task Force and Council. It is now in its fourth year of
water quality data collection and analysis. Data is shared with government agencies, basin
municipalities, aboriginal groups, and the public at large. The EID has also invested in the
development of high-tech analytical tools - computer simulation models - to assist it in testing
alternative water management policies. These high-tech adaptations use water as the common

denominator supporting integrated resource development. Other high-tech tools being
implemented by the EID include an advanced GIS (Geographic Information System) to enable
broad-based resource planning and operations. This GIS not only deals with water management
from an irrigation perspective, but looks at all other land and water uses in the region.

Flow monitoring responsibilities, both diversions and return flows, have been taken over from
the provincial and federal governments. This has been done to provide a higher and more
complete level of data acquisition. It is also the basis for annual water audits and conservation
and efficiency improvements. The EID is also a strong advocate of the need for and merits of
water resource planning on a basin level. Recent initiatives may lead to cooperative
(non-regulatory) agreements among irrigation districts, power utilities, municipalities, and
conservation organizations to integrate water management facility operations in the entire basin.
This will make the determination of priorities, solutions to water quality, instream flow needs,
and many other environmental concerns easier to accomplish. This integrated, multiagency
management and planning approach is the best way to ensure that the energies and initiatives of
people and organizations are focused on managing the resources, instead of managing the

                    A How-to Guide - How Can You Make a Difference?
First, we need to understand that there are sectors of society that do not accept as viable the
objectives of sustainable development; they are more interested in "turning back the clock" and
promoting "un-development." Second, if we do accept that sustainable development is our target
and objective, we must be prepared to make the difference - we cannot and should not wait for
governments or someone else to do the job.

Based on our experience, there are some common steps that should work regardless of the region
or political climate you live and work in. They take effort, but the ends will justify the means.
      Take a good hard objective look at your needs, at least the ones you can identify today.
      Try to determine who else may have similar needs or concerns.
      Be prepared to work with others, some of whom may not initially share your objectives
       or accept your motives as being sincere.
      Realize that regional needs can only be realized by integrating resources and objectives.
       This does not suggest that everybody gets everything they want; it more likely means a
       place for everything and everything in its place.
      Don't be afraid to be the first to move.
      Remember - common sense for the common good.
      Finally, EXPECT SUCCESS!

If those who first settled the North American Great Plains had listened to their detractors, they
likely would never have come or tried, and we would not have the abundance and quality of life

that we now enjoy. We have been granted a legacy, and it is our responsibility and moral
obligation to provide one to future generations. If we achieve sustainable development, we will
have succeeded in this venture.

McNaughton, R. D. 1993. Recreational Use of Irrigation Infrastructure in Southern Alberta.
Department of Geography, University of Alberta. Volume 3 of 7, Irrigation Impact Study,
Alberta Irrigation Projects Association.

About the Authors
Jim Webber is a professional engineer with some 25 years in service to the agricultural
community. He has a strong background in management of a large irrigation district and
marketing of irrigation to government bodies. In the formation of farmer/board relationships
within the Eastern Irrigation District in southern Alberta, Mr. Webber shares envisioning the
future of irrigation and planning for its development. In what has become a top priority for his
district, he has entered into a progressively growing program for education and implementation
of new and efficient water management techniques. He is a supporter of multiuse water
management practices that include recreation and wildlife, and he is active on the Bow River
Water Quality Council. He has served on other provincial bodies advising government, and he
promotes stakeholder involvement in all levels of government planning.

Dave Hill’s role with the Eastern Irrigation District is in the area of water resource policy and
planning. He has worked in the area of water management for more than 20 years, in both the
public and private sectors. His current responsibilities have seen him take a lead role in the
development of interactive computer simulation models that address long-term water resource
planning and operations from a multiple-purpose water management perspective. Mr. Hill is a
director of the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association, and in that capacity he led a recent
initiative to develop an irrigation industry-wide response to environmental legislation and
stewardship. He has also participated in the public workshops and meetings aimed at developing
new water management legislation for Alberta. He played a key role in the steering of the 1993
Irrigation Impact Study and was a contributing author to the final (Vol. 7) report.

     Part III

Focus Group Reports


Focus groups were an integral part of the program for this symposium. The goal of these groups
was to identify key research and policy thrusts that could be implemented by existing or newly
established committees or institutions in the region and the transmittal of these recommendations
to the President's Council for Sustainable Development, the government of Canada's Sustainable
Development Agenda, and other organizations and institutions for subsequent action.

Focus groups were organized around five themes: agricultural production; land and water
resources; human and community resources; biological resources and biodiversity; and
integrated resource management.

The planning committee's original plan was to have a focus group address climate as a theme.
After considerable discussion, it was decided that the issue of climate transcends each of the
themes above and, therefore, the issues associated with climate were best addressed in each
group, rather than separately. Climate specialists were asked to distribute themselves among the
various groups.

Each focus group was asked to address the following questions:
1. What are the principal stressors related to your group's topic affecting the North American
Great Plains? Economic, policy, environmental, and social/cultural stressors should be
considered. These stressors should be considered on various scales ranging from local to global.
2. What are examples of successes (e.g., best practices, tools)? How do you know they work?
Where are the gaps?
3. Identify specific actions or programs that would lead to a more sustainable future for the
   region. Be specific by addressing the following questions: What can be done? How can it be
   done? Who will implement it? What can WE do?

One full day of the three-day symposium was devoted to a discussion of these questions by the
focus groups. Participants were allowed to select the focus group they preferred to attend.
Although each focus group was asked to respond to the same questions, each approached this
assignment in a unique manner. A summary of each focus group's discussions follows. These
discussions are further distilled in the symposium summary included at the beginning of this

Agricultural Production Focus Group

Question 1:
What are the principal stressors affecting agricultural production in the North American Great
Plains? Economic, policy, environmental, and social/cultural stressors should be considered.
These stressors should be considered on various scales ranging from local to global.

The focus group classified stressors as economic, governmental, environmental, social and
cultural, and education and research. A wide range of stressors was listed under each category.

Economic Stressors:
      Servicing the substantial debt that most farmers face
      Interjecting new crops into crop rotation (e.g., moving away from a wheat/fallow
      Dependence on income generated from off-farm sources
      Lack of equity available for start-up
      Personal vs. corporate risk
      Poor vertical integration in the farm business
      Lack of value-added activities on farm and in community
      High property taxes
      High transportation costs
      Disintegration of local economies
      Shift of political clout from rural to urban areas

Governmental Stressors:
      Inconsistencies in rules pertaining to the application of chemicals between rural and
       urban areas
      Environmental regulations
      Transportation subsidies
      Cheap food policy

Environmental Stressors:
      Weather extremes and climate variability
      Reduced soil productivity

      Evapotranspiration deficit in cropped areas
      Lack of reliable long-range climate outlooks
      Depletion of ground water supplies (e.g., Ogallala Aquifer)
      Reduced air, soil, and water quality
      Insect pests (e.g., grasshoppers)

Sociocultural Stressors:
      Resistance to change, both positive and negative
      Corporate versus family farms; impacts on community
      Limited possibilities for entry-level farmers
      Stress associated with the uncertainties of farming
      Unavailability of competent labor supply
      Lack of awareness of agricultural/rural issues by urbanites
      Food safety
      Shift of political clout from rural to urban areas
      Perception problems (e.g., odor)
      Concentration of land ownership and impact on communities

Education and Research Stressors:
      Lack of agreement among experts on many farm management issues
      Information and its interpretation is often not site specific
      Farm risks that could be reduced through improved use of long-range forecasts
      Improved food system education
      Public perception of the quality of food products
      Need for alternative crops, improved markets, and value-added opportunities

Question 2:
What are examples of successes (e.g., best practices, tools)? How do you know they work?
Where are the gaps?

Focus group members discussed what they considered to be some success stories of sustainable
agriculture in the region. Some of those mentioned included:
      Production of exotic livestock, birds (successful in the short term, but concern was
       expressed about long-term markets)
      Dairy quality hay (irrigated, high plains, fall harvested)

      Niche markets for products like natural beef
      Sun-cured alfalfa
      Composting of manure and sludge
      Organic gardening
      Conservation tillage, although low tillage means the higher input of herbicides
      Diversified crops (canola, turtle beans, certified weed-free straw, popcorn, fruits and
       jellies, native fruits, maple syrup, seed potatoes, woodlots)
      Mixed farming
      Direct sales (jams, jellies, u-pick fruit, sweet corn)
      Tourism (hunting, tourist farms)
      Low-input farming
      High-tech farming (futuristic)
      Education (e.g., agriculture in the classroom)
      Community-supported agriculture

Question 3:
Identify specific actions or programs that would lead to a more sustainable future for the region.
Be specific by addressing the following questions: What can be done? How can it be done? Who
will implement it? What can WE do?

The agricultural production focus group concluded that the following ideas are critical to a
sustainable future for the North American Great Plains.
      Increase the economic return to the individual farmer
      Diversify the income source from the farm itself and from the local community
      Improve soil productivity and soil health
      Increase irrigation efficiency
      Promote crop rotations, crop diversity, and mixed farm (crop and animal) systems
      Base agricultural research on ecoregions
      Conduct more systems research
      Conduct more research on farmers' fields, reduce the number of research stations, and
       promote a "team" concept between the research and farming community
      Build research and development support from local and national sources (food tax idea)
      Promote local/federal planning to preserve prime farmland, including zoning bylaws and
       development rights
      Build bridges and alliances to environmental groups, bankers, input suppliers, consumers,
       labor, food processors, grain dealers, and so forth

   Communicate the importance of food and agriculture to the public
   Develop an agricultural system based on non-extraction

Land and Water Resources Focus Group

The focus group began its discussions by surveying the disciplinary and organizational
perspectives of each of the participants. The group was composed of representatives of 12
government agencies (state and federal), academic or research institutions, and an irrigation

The premises for the focus group discussion were:
      The symposium is part of a process to define a sustainable future for the region, not an
       end in itself;
      Landscape is a "common" denominator for many sustainability issues;
      Land and water resource issues are an important part of the broader sustainability issue;
      Sustainability is a blend of social, environmental, and economic concerns and issues;
      Defining a sustainable future for the region requires a flexible approach rather than a
       bureaucratic one;
      Trust must be at the foundation of this process.

The chair felt that sustainability was achievable if we improved the use of extensive expertise
and knowledge that exists to ensure that land and water resources are available to meet current
and future (expected and unexpected) needs.

What are the land and water issues in question?
      Water quality, surface and ground (separate and together)
      Production value of land (i.e., agricultural productivity)
      Soil quality
      Surface and ground water quantity (e.g., seasonality and variability of water availability)
      Water allocation
      Aesthetic value of land
      Biological value of land (i.e., habitat)
      Biological value of water
      Legal liabilities
      Safety hazard (e.g., subsidence)
      Access to land and water
      Soil erosion (wind and water)

      Damage caused by droughts and floods
      Land use conflicts
      Land ownership and property rights in general, including water rights
      Equity among stakeholders
      Biodiversity
      Air resource as it relates to land and water (interconnections)
      Economic resource valuation
      Alternative uses of land and water

These issues were summarized into four categories:
      Environmental quality
      Valuation of land and water resources
      Natural hazards management
      Surface and ground water quantity

Question 1:
What are the principal stressors related to water and land affecting the North American Great
Plains? Economic, policy, environmental, and social/cultural stressors should be considered.
These stressors should be considered on various scales ranging from local to global.

      Climate change and variability
      Extreme climatic events, including a possible change in frequency and severity
      Jurisdictional and institutional boundaries and differences
      Governmental programs, policies, and regulations, including institutional constraints
      Fiscal pressures and constraints
      Global demand for food
      Technology
      Changes in land use
      Social traditions and attitudes
      Special interests
      Consumer demand
      Population changes, shifts, and demographics
      Conflicts and competition for land and water
      Contamination (i.e., nonpoint and point source pollution)
      Engineering structures (e.g., levees, dams, bridges)

      Inadvertent acts (e.g., unforeseen side effects of actions such as the introduction of exotic
      Planned disposal of wastes and waste generation
      External forces on the Great Plains (e.g., global population, demand for food and fiber,
       foreign impositions such as international treaty obligations, etc.)
      Inappropriate and/or outdated resource management practices
      Taxation
      Land use capacity (e.g., fertility)
      Water use trends and conflicts
      Corporate policies
      Neglect of broader global conditions with respect to our "sense of place"
      Resource limitations
      Social conditions (e.g., access to health care, housing for elderly, etc.)

These stressors were then grouped into six categories, as follows:
      Institutional programs and policy stressors, including government and private sector
       stressors; jurisdictional and institutional boundaries; fiscal constraints
      Resource limitation stressors, including land use change; outdated resource management
       practices; land use capacity and soil fertility concerns; resource limitations
      Human effects and infrastructure stressors, including inadvertent acts; engineering
       construction; technology; contamination; waste disposal and generation
      Climate stressors, including variability and change; extreme climatic events
      Economic stressors, including taxation; consumer demand; conflicts and competition for
       land and water in the marketplace; economics; food demand
      Social and cultural stressors, including consumer demand; population change, shifts, and
       demographics; special interests; social traditions and attitude

External forces, acts, or changes serve as stressors in multiple categories.

The focus group then developed a 4x6 matrix (Figure 1) between the issues and the stressors to
determine which ones the members felt were most important. The intersection of issues and
stressors were rated as high, medium, and low by group members and assigned points 3, 2, or 1,

Focus group participants were asked to comment on the interactions of issues and stressors (i.e.,
why scores for some cells are high or low). They also recognized that all of the issues are

interrelated. Considerable concern was expressed about whether this approach actually captures
the true relative weight of these issues and stressors.

The group continued to discuss statements about the importance of the pairs of issues/stressors in
the matrix. The group also discussed common threads between the priority cells.

Figure 1. Issues and Stressors


                    1:                     2:                       3:                     4:
                    Natural Hazards        Surface/Groundwater      Valuation of Land      Environmental
                    Management             Quantity                 and Water Functions    Quality



                         3 x 9 = 27              3 x 7 = 21              3 x 8 = 24              3 x 7 = 21
                         2 x 6 = 12              2 x 6 = 12              2 x 7 = 14              2 x 8 = 16
                          1x1=1                   1x3=3                   1x1=1                      1x1=1

 Natural resource
                         3 x 5 = 15              3 x 14 = 42             3 x 9 = 27              3 x 7 = 21
                          2x4=8                   2x1=2                  2 x 5 = 10              2 x 6 = 12
                          1x6=6                   1x1=1                   1x0=0                      1x2=2

 Human effects/
 Infrastructure          3 x 7 = 21              3 x 6 = 18               3x3=9                  3 x 8 = 24
                         2 x 6 = 12              2 x 7 = 14              2 x 7 = 14              2 x 5 = 10
                          1x2=2                   1x3=3                   1x6=6                      1x2=2


                         3 x 10 = 30              3 x 11 =33                 3x2=6                    3x3=9
                          2 x 6 = 12              2 x 5 = 10                2 x 8 = 16               2 x 5 = 10
                          1x0=0                    1x0=0                    1x6=6                    1x6=6


                         3 x 4 = 12                3x3=9                   3 x 12 = 36               3 x 6 = 18
                         2 x 9 = 18               2 x 9 = 18                2x4=8                    2 x 8 = 16
                          1x3=3                    1x4=4                    1x0=0                    1x2=2


                          3x3=9                   3 x 4 = 12                3 x 6 = 18               3 x 9 = 27
                         2 x 5 = 10               2 x 8 = 16                2 x 8 = 16               2 x 6 = 12
                          1x8=8                    1x4=4                    1x2=2                    1x1=1
3 = High; 2 = Medium; 1 = Low

Participants noted the following:
      Similarities in the perceptions of participants in the Great Plains region are greater in a
       north-south direction than they are from east to west in Canada.
      Climate characteristics are shared across the Great Plains and influence perceptions of
       and cultural attitudes about water resources. Sense of "place" involves societal
       perceptions and living within limits of the region's resource base (i.e., living near the
       edge of the region's resource capacities).
      Residents' sense of place is dominated by climatic restrictions on the resource base, but
       our cultural and societal attitudes tend to extend beyond those restrictions.
      Some farmers live within the bounds, but this is an individual thing, not a regional or
       cultural ethic.
      Limitations of the region are not recognized in a broader sense, meaning sustainability is
       difficult to achieve.
      Time is relative. In the short term, everything is fine (e.g., High Plains aquifer). In the
       much longer term, things are not; we are beyond the limits. Time makes a difference in
       terms of different functions of land and water. Now that the fundamentals of sustenance
       and accumulation of wealth have largely been achieved, residents are beginning to think
       more about the longevity of the Plains as a sustainable resource.

      In the northern parts of the region, surface water dependency makes residents more
       sensitive to resource abuse. Surface water, if abused, visibly disappears. Ground water to
       the south is another matter. Effects are invisible (at least initially). What can we learn?
      Natural systems are driven by climate; cultural systems are driven by agriculture.
      As described in Marvin Duncan's paper, too many people and institutions arrived too
       soon in the Great Plains. Even now, institutions from outside the region still lack an
       appreciation of the limits of the Great Plains.
      Outsiders are desensitized to the limits of the Great Plains resource base as well as its
      There is a congruency between sustainability and adaptation to the region's limits.
      Farmers think short term, nonfarmers think in a longer term.
      The issue of climate change is even less tangible for the region's residents. Climate
       change stretches perspectives even for many nonfarmers who already have a time frame
       longer than that of farmers.
      Most Plains land is owned by small landowners, contributing to cultural resistance to
      Are Plains farmers trying to encourage their kids to leave the farm in search of a better

The focus group recognized a set of limits to a sustainable future. These included the
undervaluation of water, lack of knowledge about factors affecting water availability in the
future, and cultural fixation of a short-term commodity-producing economic system. Or, is it
economic constraints placed on a cultural system? There was disagreement among discussants
about whether cultural fixation or economic constraint dominates.

The traditional view has been that land and water are there to produce commodities. There is
now greater recognition that there are limits to the region's ability to produce commodities. A
shift is occurring from an emphasis on economic values to greater appreciation of aesthetic,
environmental, and ecosystem values and the preservation of landscape. In certain places across
the Great Plains, this shift has occurred while the old and new mentalities are in potential conflict
in other locations.

In Canada, wildlife is considered to be a Crown resource; therefore, farmers cannot charge
hunters for access to their land. If farmers could charge for access, would that result in farmers
providing and protecting more habitat as economic incentive?

Question 3:
Identify specific actions or programs that would lead to a more sustainable future for the region.
Be specific by addressing the following questions: What can be done? How can it be done? Who
will implement it? What WE do? [Question 2 was addressed as part of the response to question

Focus group participants broke into subgroups to address four action areas.
Economic stewardship model for land and water. Treat land and water as a resource, not a
commodity. Resources must be properly valued. The marketplace has a role to play in this, but it
is limited by fundamental problems of "resource economics." Banks evaluate risk on the basis of
the probability of loan recovery; they do not evaluate risk in terms of the sustainability of the
resource base (i.e., loss of topsoil). Efficient markets also require knowledgeable consumers,
borrowers, and lenders. It must be recognized that this is a long-term process that requires
educating the public.

Stewardship means society must bear some of the costs of land protection, not just farmers.
Stewardship in part means reducing resource waste (material, financial); for example, eliminate
the wide range of subsidies that misdirect resources, or find novel, innovative ways to raise
capital to invest in property stewardship.

The economic stewardship model needs to be applied at local levels (i.e., local solutions to local

The government's role should be to rationalize policies and programs; solutions are not imposed.
Government should facilitate local initiatives and represent the farm community internationally.
International market distortions should be eliminated (e.g., foreign subsidized markets and

Examples of successes: community empowerment activities.
Technology. Improvements in technology can yield new tools for monitoring and implementing
programs or policies that promote sustainability in Great Plains agriculture (e.g., global
positioning systems to maximize farm field management) and in other sectors (e.g., tourism,
recreation). Technological tools should be promoted that allow production to be increased
without the depletion of resources (e.g., ground water).

This can be accomplished through better education and research programs with the assistance of
universities and the private sector. The private sector can assist if there is a clear economic
incentive. Symposium participants can also serve as individual catalysts in their places of work
and residence.

Predict future natural conditions, recognizing the global perspective. Climatic characteristics
and land production potential must be defined in the context of human activities.

Indicators of sustainability must be defined. This can be achieved by setting sustainability goals,
recognizing that there are multiple goals. Linkages must be achieved between sources of
information and users and between economics and social needs.

Issues need to be identified from within the community. Defining research problems at the
community level will provide a sense of ownership for solutions that are devised. A partnership
must be created for research and its application. Solutions need to be communicated from the
community scale to the regional scale.

Education plan of action. The purpose of this plan is to create understanding, excitement, and
commitment to a common goal of developing a sustainable future for the Great Plains. This can
be accomplished through pilot programs, demonstration projects, public sector marketing, career
development programs, and festivals and fairs.

The education plan should include all age groups within both the rural and urban audience. It
should also include professional and corporate development by providing in-service activities.
Timing of educational activities must be tailored to each target group. Partnerships should be
established between government, the private sector, NGOs, and volunteer groups.

Educational activities must be defined on the basis of eco-regions or water basins (watersheds),
recognizing that there are some commonalities, despite different geographic characteristics.

Successes: Geography for Life program, Project Wild and Project Wet programs, Groundwater
Guardian program, the Center for Sustainable Agricultural Systems' program at the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln, post-secondary programs, Partners for the Saskatchewan Basin project.

Human and Community Resources Focus Group

The group began its discussions by reviewing the background/perspectives of participants. The
Human and Community Resources group was composed of an urban planner, a farmer, a soil
scientist, university faculty and administrators, and representatives of environmental interest
groups, a utility company, federal agencies, and an international research/development center.

The opening discussion focused on how we can prepare for a socially, economically, and
environmentally sustainable future when the world population will increase from nearly 6 billion
to more than 10 billion in the early part of the next century. These people will aspire to higher
standards of living. We must view the North American Great Plains as part of a global
community, not in isolation. We must plan for this population and consider it in food production

In the spirit of inclusiveness, we need to listen to the perspectives of others. We can make
changes in the way we do things in this region and the rest of the world. We must make changes.

Sustainable development is not a new concept. Farmers have practiced it from the beginning of
time. Sustainable development has been threatened by institutions. We need to stop talking about
sustainable development and take action. It is about partnerships. To address this issue, everyone
must come to the table. We need to accept responsibility ourselves. We have to deal with the real
issues and focus on what we can do to bring people together in partnerships. We need to
recognize that mistakes have been made. We need to move beyond that and envision what we
can do - stop placing blame and start doing.

Question 1:
What are the principal stressors related to human and community resources affecting the North
American Great Plains? Economic, policy, environmental, and social/cultural stressors should
be considered. These stressors should be considered on various scales ranging from local to

Discussion focused on both the negative and positive forces that are related to the sustainability
of human and community resources in the Great Plains.
Negative stressors:
      The need for partnerships is not seen by all as critical to addressing issues of
       sustainability in the region. Some people are inhibited from coming willingly to the table
       because of a deep-seated lack of trust or because of different agendas.
      Applying urban models to rural life. These models are based on large populations. We
       need to employ human participation models.

      Leadership fatigue. We need to encourage people in leadership positions to remain
       involved and, at the same time, motivate those who are apathetic.
      Fear of change. Policies that were created many years ago may now be outdated and
       unnecessary, but people still want to protect those policies.
      Small farm size. Farm size must be increased for farms to remain profitable.
      Trade that emphasizes raw materials as exports. Trade should emphasize the export of
       value-added products.
      Incentives to produce commodities that are not considered to be sustainable.
      International interference by governments on GATT issues in terms of subsidies and
      Agricultural subsidies that are used to offset subsidies of groups like the European Union.
      Decreasing vitality of community economies because of vertical integration (i.e., more
       dollars in the hands of fewer people).
      Drain of intellectual resources from the region and decreased movement of population
       into the region. The region has an aging population.
      Control of the world economy by multinational corporations (MNCs). This control results
       in economic blackmail: if standards are imposed, the MNCs will go somewhere else.
      Lack of environmental information on which to base decisions.

The group discussed whether it was "our" job to sustain all communities or only those that are
sustainable. The desire for sustainability must come from within. These communities must have
a vision and a mission. A vision must be embraced as your own, or it will not be sustained. A
vision helps to motivate people and a mission provides direction. This translates into the need for
a plan on how to achieve these objectives. If the community has a positive vision of the future,
they are not as likely to be threatened by the possibility of losing their identity.

Communities need to be able to resolve conflict. There must be a consumer decision-making
model available that can be employed to build awareness and develop strategies to reach goals.

Question 2:
What are examples of successes (e.g., best practices, tools)? How do you know they work?
Where are the gaps?

Successes or positive stressors identified by the group included:
      People have a healthy attitude about collaboration and taking responsibility. People in the
       Great Plains still want government to work. This implies that there is a potential for
       partnership between government and communities. However, at present there seems to be
       a lack of partnerships in the region.

      Community-based initiatives often work and should be encouraged. Much more can be
       accomplished through partnerships, especially if the initiative comes from the grassroots
       level. Partnerships are synergistic and provide a sense of hope for the future.
      A "sense of place" is critical to a person's outlook on life and the future. People must
       have a positive attitude about the Great Plains. The region must maintain its young
       people if it is to achieve its vision for a sustainable future. Sense of place must be viewed
       in a regional sense (connectedness), not as isolated places or communities. We also have
       a sense of place as environment, but most of that is directed toward ecosystems.
      MNCs also offer the opportunity for smaller-scale investment by locals.
      A "greening" social awareness creates the possibility for small and medium enterprises.
       Home-based businesses in the region have increased.
      Regional incomes are relatively high, although income distribution is worsening.
      A good understanding exists of the importance of economic issues to the region. This
       gives us insight on possible focuses for future efforts. If we want to motivate people, we
       need to assure them that their economic needs are being addressed. This is a good starting
       point for motivating action and change.
      Greater purchasing power can change an economy to be more socially and
       environmentally responsible. This change can drive both industry and policy.
      Technology has provided opportunities for small businesses in the region.
      Communities have adopted a sense of vision and control because of the failure of
       government to address many issues related to sustainability. This has provided a sense of
      Education creates a sense of understanding of the issues associated with sustainable

Question 3:
Identify specific actions or programs that would lead to a more sustainable future for the region.
Be specific by addressing the following questions: What can be done? How can it be done? Who
will implement it? What can WE do?

      The first step is to identify strategies and target audiences. Be prepared to listen to these
       groups. Begin by building partnerships between government and groups or communities.
       Community participation will help to establish credibility. Specific actions will fail unless
       credibility is established at the outset. Action plans will follow this process.
      Present the results of this symposium to the sustainability conference scheduled for
       August in Winnipeg. This will be an excellent opportunity for interaction because many
       community and agricultural leaders will be in attendance. This could be an important first
       step toward initiating some of the ideas from this symposium.
      Communicate the results of this symposium to local, provincial, and federal leaders for
       further action.

      Prepare a guidebook or notebook of information on sustainability. This guidebook could
       be prepared for different audiences.
      Organize a workshop following the series of conferences/symposia on sustainability in
       the Great Plains to assess the process and where we go from here.
      Develop linkages with Saskatchewan's Prairie Ecosystem Study, which is part of
       Canada's Sustainable Development Agenda.

The Human and Community Resources focus group concluded by listing five criteria that they
considered to be key to sustainable communities:
      A healthy attitude on the part of the community regarding collaboration, responsibility,
       and partnership.
      A strong sense of place and time, as well as a sense of worth, hope, success, and
      Communities must take charge of (and responsibility for) their future.
      Communities must become self-reliant and diversified.
      Communities must understand and value the importance of education.

Biological Resources and Biodiversity Focus Group

The group identified three key issues facing the North American Great Plains.
        Biological productivity, which is critical to the economic success of agriculture on the
         Great Plains.
        Maintenance of biodiversity, which is threatened by a diminishing gene pool and a lack
         of knowledge of biodiversity issues as they apply to agriculture on the Great Plains.
        Land use practices, which need to be balanced to accommodate the needs of all
         inhabitants, now and in future generations.

Question 1:
What are the principal stressors related to biological resources and biodiversity affecting the
North American Great Plains? Economic, policy, environmental, and social/cultural stressors
should be considered. These stressors should be considered on various scales ranging from local
to global.

Stressors identified were classified into four groups:
        Farming practices. Many traditional methods enhance sustainability, but others are
         inappropriate in view of the need to maintain biodiversity and enhance the productivity of
         the soil.
        Wetland drainage. Continued removal of wetlands from the prairie ecosystem has direct
         impacts on productivity by altering soil moisture patterns.
        Mining aquifers. Cultural and social water-use practices threaten the prairie aquifer and
         hence the productivity of the land.
        Trade policy. Inappropriate policies that affect intranational and international trade can
         create imbalances in supply and demand and threaten the economic stability of farmers.
        Subsidies. Artificial price support and other subsidies can be disincentives to maintaining
        Crop insurance. If inappropriately used, crop insurance can discourage good farming and
         land use practices.
        Farm funding. Funding policies have a direct impact on the cash flow of farmers and their
         ability to maintain and expand their operations.
        Perceptions of value. Biological resources are often perceived to have lesser value than
         other economic resources and are therefore undervalued in economic analyses.

      Agrochemical usage. Agrochemicals can be used to increase yields, and hence profits,
       while reducing the future ability of the soil to support productivity.
      Mining aquifers and wetland drainage. Water is often viewed as an economic good that
       can be bought and sold, rather than as a common resource.
      Climate. Climate extremes are relatively rare and usually unpredictable, and they can
       have a significant economic impact on farmers. Climate change could affect diversity and
       lead to changes in crop calendars, which could affect farming practices.
      Stratospheric ozone depletion. UVB radiation affects plant chemistry and physiology.
      Pollution. Air and water pollution affect productivity. Salinization can remove land from
       production for extended periods of time.
      Soil erosion. Erosion by the elements can be exacerbated by some land use practices.

Question 2:
What are examples of successes (e.g., best practices, tools)? How do you know they work?
Where are the gaps?

Successes identified by the group were in the area of:
      Education and outreach. Extension programs are becoming more common and are
      Dialogue. Effective stakeholder dialogue on issues has started. Stakeholders are
       becoming more involved in planning programs, not just implementing them.
      Sustainable practices. Land use practices such as zero-till farming, crop rotation, and
       fallowing are becoming more common and are sustainable. The use of holding ponds and
       terracing enhance soil productivity. Minimum maintenance practices help to conserve
       water and soil.
      Science and technology. New production technologies not only contribute to productivity
       but enhance land stability. Genetic engineering has potential for enhancing the gene pool.
      Government initiatives. Initiatives planned and developed by stakeholders can address
       their concerns most effectively. Developing trade policy is an area where governments
       can contribute to economic sustainability: GATT and the elimination of subsidies are
       examples of successes.

Proposed indicators for measuring success:
      For biological productivity - The availability of products and the economic health of the
       agricultural industry.
      For maintenance of biodiversity - The variety of products available and inventories of
       birds and other wildlife that depend on the health and diversity of habitats.
      For sustainable land use practices - Soil retention is the most important indicator.

Closing the gaps in sustainability - The focus for the future:
      For education - Putting units on biodiversity and the value of biological resources into
       kindergarten to grade 12 curricula; reaching out to inform citizens about the success and
       importance of government initiatives; transferring knowledge into operational activities;
       and popularizing information using societal institutions.
      For governments - Taking proactive action that will address the need to change attitudes
       and cultures so that citizens of the Great Plains will be better able to cope with long-term
       change and the increasingly global perspective to life. Measures proposed included using
       policy to discourage high-risk cropping and overproduction by re-examining disaster and
       other relief payments and the taxation system; harmonizing rules and regulations across
       the various levels of governments; protecting aquatic and transboundary ecosystems; and
       fostering gene-pool diversity through self-rewarding systems, including taxation.
      For science and technology - Encouraging research and development and the acquisition
       of knowledge. Areas of concentration suggested were expanding (and filling in critical
       gaps in) biological inventories; recalibrating aquatic resource models so that they are
       more appropriate for the Great Plains; improving our knowledge of surface and
       subsurface water interactions; developing optimal procedures and standards for
       agrochemical use; and expanding technology development and knowledge transfer

Question 3:
Identify specific actions or programs that would lead to a more sustainable future for the region.
Be specific by addressing the following questions: What can be done? How can it be done? Who
will implement it? What can WE do?

The focus group identified a number of key activities, focusing on the three key issues described
above. They suggested that many of these activities could be slotted into the Sustainable Prairies
Initiative, a Canadian-led integrated regional initiative that includes activities on, among other
things, sustainable agriculture, economic diversification, social issues, and wetlands and habitat

Actions proposed:
Knowledge initiatives related to soil nutrients.
      Development work on fertilizers that do not wash out of the soil and that increase nutrient
      Research on the impacts of agrochemicals on soil productivity.
      Soil ecology research. Priority areas are:
          Soil fungi and their relationship to crops.
          Nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

          Replenishment of organic carbon by, for example, educating farmers to incorporate
           plant stubble into the soil and developing improved technology to achieve this.
          Biological toxic waste disposal systems, such as the use of worms and bacteria.
          New analytical techniques for measuring soil parameters.

Information dissemination initiatives.
      Increasing access to knowledge through the use of electronic systems.
      Targeted information delivery through educational institutions.
      Developing improved information exchange techniques among agencies engaged in
       science, policy, and operations activities.
      Developing an improved communications interface between scientists, policy makers,
       and farmers that would facilitate dissemination of information about the relevance of

Performance measures.
      Development of indicators of success and sustainability, such as soil loss measurement
      Measuring wetlands extent using satellite technology.
      Using digital image-processing to measure crop cover and productivity, with an emphasis
       on improving the detail of these measurements down to the level of a single farm, if
      Resolving the major differences in views that exist among agencies on what sustainability
       is and how to measure it. The focus group recognized that there is some advantage to
       ambiguity since it promotes development of a more varied range of indicators.
      Indicators of water quality and availability, such as an aquifer vulnerability index.
      Indicators linking soil and water quality to human health.
      Enhanced species inventories and population counts.

Education initiatives.
      Incorporating traditional education (through the community and the family, for example)
       into formal education systems.
      Lifelong continuous learning initiatives.
      Educating citizens on the need for lifestyle changes to facilitate adaptation to changing
       demographics and technology.
      Encouraging the use of social institutions (such as the lodge, the town hall meeting, and
       discussions at the gas station) as informal education mechanisms.
      Educating citizens on the relevance of biodiversity.

       Teaching people how to take advantage of the natural resilience of nature.

Policy initiatives.
       Developing, as a matter of priority, policies that address the rapidly increasing worldwide
        demand for food that will accompany the rapid population increases of the coming years,
        while at the same time discouraging production at unsustainable levels.
       Targeting subsidies and incentives at discretely measurable parameters such as soil loss,
        rather than at production.
       Establishing trust funds to offset market costs, rather than paying direct subsidies.
       Incorporating valuations for environmental and social capital, as well as for human-made
        capital, into policy development.
       Developing proactive policies that anticipate and prevent, rather than react and cure.
       When restorative measures are needed, designing them to address concerns about
        government interference and its effects on producers' profit levels.

Integrated Resource Management Focus Group

Question 1:
What are the principal stressors related to integrated resource management affecting the North
American Great Plains? Economic, policy, environmental, and social/cultural stressors should
be considered. These stressors should be considered on various scales ranging from local to

The following stressors on integrated resource management were identified:
Data, Information, and Knowledge (Local/Global)
      Lack of data and research hampers integrated planning; people need to better understand
       the options.
      Action must be at the local level, but people must first understand the issues. Local
       people must be involved in the decision process.
      Rapid change is a problem; Internet will only accelerate the rate of change. We need
       more efficient information flow. The border between the United States and Canada
       sometimes hinders the flow of information.
      Traditional sources of information (e.g., agricultural extension specialists) are being
       bypassed because their information is considered out of date. Industry is providing
       information to local leaders. The average person generally does not have the information
       needed and does not know how to get it. Access to information is a significant problem in
       addressing issues related to sustainability. For example, endangered species are a public
       good, but the purveyor of much of the information on that public good is often
       government. Government often does not make this information available to the public.
      There is little motivation for people to acquire knowledge because no direct return is
      Misinformation is a considerable problem.
      Incompatibility of data bases between the United States and Canada makes it difficult to
       share data and collaborate on problems common to the region. The Great Plains data base
       currently being set up by the EROS Data Center is attempting to address this issue
       through the efforts of the Western Governors' Association and the Western Premiers
      Lack of regional models hampers the analysis of problems.
      Government is reluctant to turn programs (i.e., power) over to local people.
Policy and Institutional
      Government (departments and programs) is too compartmentalized to be effective in
       addressing many issues associated with sustainability. Existing infrastructure dictates

       how business is conducted and procedures for making decisions. This is very
       bureaucratic and difficult to change.
      Approaches to policy development (e.g., narrow focus, stovepipe approach) make it hard
       for government to contribute to local decision making effectively. It is difficult to
       integrate policies between departments or agencies (e.g., high walls) and levels of
       government. The structure of government is a real stressor to getting the right information
       in the hands of people at the local level.
      The legislative and policy climate must be improved so that priorities are set on
       economically viable solutions that are ecologically sound. Policy decisions are typically
       for short-term economic agendas, in contrast to long-term environmental agendas. No
       consideration is given to ecological objectives (e.g., LIFT set-aside program for wheat
       acres resulted in excess summer fallow).
      Local leadership is required to tackle the issues associated with sustainability and
       environmental protection and preservation. Institutions are creatures of statutes;
       therefore, there is little hope of changing the way decisions are made (i.e., locally based
      Leadership lacks continuity because government and agency heads (and therefore
       policies) change. Actions of political leaders are closely tied to those that will produce
       votes in the short term. The "system" must somehow allocate resources to natural
       resource/environmental protection.
      Government programs and policies are inflexible. The same program does not work in
       each setting. Financial resources should be provided to meet the objectives of sustainable
       development. Local agencies and organizations should be empowered to use these
       resources to achieve these objectives, according to local needs. This approach would
       encourage innovative approaches to solving local problems. Government should view
       itself as a facilitator to get the job done. Top-down approaches usually do not work.
       Mandate does not matter if the goal is to get the job done rather than worry about
       whose job it is.

Integrated resource management will be implemented by individual resource managers.
Failure of the market to provide incentives for private stewardship of the land. Most land is
privately owned and there is no market incentive for landowners to provide private stewardship
of that land. There is no economic incentive for a rancher to protect a burrowing owl. The North
American Waterfowl Management Plan is the only place where there is some market for an
ecological service (producing ducks).

Clean water and good soil management does not have a market value. In contrast, draining a
wetland increases the land's market value (because of increased agricultural productivity).

Options that are both economically and environmentally good are readily adopted. Others
take an incentive of some type.

In democracy, it is not "them," it is "us." This approach is not working. Wetlands are societal or
shared resources; society must pay to preserve and restore them, not the individual. The tax
system may be a tool to accomplish this goal. State/provincial government must direct local
government to preserve and restore wetlands; they may have to transfer resources to the local
government to achieve this goal.

The role of federal government
The federal government's role is to bring about consensus. Local people need to make decisions
on how to achieve the goal. Government can set a framework for policy, but this must be viewed
as a guideline for accomplishing goals. There must also be in place some mechanism or process
to resolve conflicts.

Government can also be a mediator, if it can do so without creating greater conflict. If common
goals can be established by government and local communities, most conflict can be eliminated.
There should be a great deal of public involvement in the development of public policy.

The government's role is to identify opportunities and bring interests together. We need a buyer
and seller for environmental commodities. Lack of a marketplace for environmental variables is
a stressor.

Government has a broader vision than most people. Government can help us see the whole
ecosystem. In river systems, farmers know their own land but may not care about interactions.
Government has to look at the big picture and look as far ahead as possible.

      Sustainable development is easier to accomplish if the people affected understand the
       things that they share. This results in a convergence of personal agendas.
      Values are stressors. For example, landowners care about the environment. If they are
       asked to choose between personal rights and environment, they will choose personal
       rights, even if this decision is detrimental to the rights of others. Individual rights are
      Government emphasis on regulation leads to backlash in people who champion
       individual rights. The system is driving behavior.
      Adversarial approaches between government and people are a stressor for sustainable
       development. Government may panic and try to solve newly perceived problems through
       control (i.e., regulation). If we can get stakeholders together to discuss these problems,
       answers can often be found. This process usually leads to a better solution than the
       panic/regulation approach. Local people often do not get involved in the process until it is
       too late.

      The philosophy of individual rights in the United States is a problem when trying to
       protect community or shared resources. We need a paradigm shift to emphasize
       community behavior, not exclusively individualistic behavior.

Environmental Stressors
      Climate is highly variable in the region and could be a barrier to an integrated approach
       to resource management. Climate studies should focus on regional variation, not just
       variations on a local or global scale.
      Climatic extremes often affect the entire region, making the process of integrating
       management strategies more difficult. Economic diversification could reduce the impact
       of climate variability.
      Ad hoc programs in Canada in response to droughts and price fluctuations prevent an
       integrated approach. These programs have a narrow focus. There should be more
       emphasis on the systems approach to policy/program development.
      Pathogens can travel very easily in the region because no physical barriers exist.
       Monoculture is a disaster in this context. For example, the risk of rust prevents people
       from growing winter wheat, limiting diversification options that could integrate economic
       and environmental objectives.
      The Great Plains lack a focal point for mobilizing public concern about environmental
       issues. For example, public concern over environmental issues in the Great Lakes is
       mobilized around these water bodies and their protection.

Question 2:
What are examples of successes (e.g., best practices, tools)? How do you know they work?
Where are the gaps?

      Political action to "save the CRP" could be considered a success. This issue has brought
       together some interest groups. Stakeholders have identified individual benefits, and they
       realize they must work together. CRP was a positive action but was undertaken for the
       wrong reasons. It was sold on the basis of a set-aside program but has paid for itself as an
       ecological program.
      Conservation Districts in Manitoba and Natural Resource Districts in Nebraska are
       successful. These districts are watershed-based, locally driven, responsible for both soil
       and water, and provide opportunities to work on associated resources.
      The North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) is resulting in money
       moving across an international boundary to public and private agencies. The most
       important partner is the producer. NAWMP started out as a narrowly focused program
       and later broadened as things started to happen on the ground. At present there is some
       disagreement about its success, but its value is recognized.
      In response to the problem of silting (from soil erosion) in Lake Dauphin, local people
       formed committees. They used some government money, but they took ownership of the

       problem and solved it. This was an integrated issue at the outset (economic development,
       environment, water quality).
      Ducks Unlimited and the Eastern Irrigation District have had 50 years of success.
       Wetlands have enhanced recreation and economic activities.
      The Resource Conservation and Development Program (through the resources
       conservation program) has a county-level person working with local stakeholders to
       address needs. This results in a 10:1 leveraging of public funding. Some projects are
       multi-county in scope. This program is effective, but it has been zeroed out in the 1996
      The "Know Your Watershed" program of the National Association of Conservation
       Districts is delivered by the Conservation Tillage Information Center. This is a private
       initiative, created as a companion to the Soil Conservation Service. The focus is
       information and awareness.
      Round table discussions in Canada have allowed for public consultation and consensus
       building on common goals. These round tables have encouraged and facilitated the public
       involvement/discussion process. Actual action occurs closer to the ground. Manitoba is
       starting to use local round tables to define local issues. This may be a way of bridging the
       gap between farm and rural townspeople.
      Operation Greenstrip introduces filterstrips along streams and allows children to plant
      TransAlta is a project that composts municipal wastes from Edmonton and uses the
       material in rehabilitation work.
      A carbon sequestration project of the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Society,
       TransAlta, and Monsanto is a direct seeding project. The intent of this project is to offset
       carbon produced from coal burning.
      Composting yard waste, instead of putting it into landfills, has become quite popular, and
       some counties are selling this material. A Minnesota regulation prevents yard waste from
       being deposited in a landfill. Winnipeg has started its own composting program.
      A wind energy task force has been established in Nebraska (composed of public power
       companies, the Department of Economic Development, state senators, and environmental
       citizens groups) to assess the wind resources in Nebraska. This task force is looking to
       the future when Nebraska may need more energy capacity. Wind energy generation
       requires little land and can be integrated with agriculture or other resource uses. This
       effort could reduce the demand for energy from sources outside the state. Financial
       resources will remain in the state, leading to local jobs and, possibly, tourism
      Great Plains International Data Network is a U.S./Canadian partnership that can provide
       the data tools for integrated resource management.

An important key to these success stories is that they identified a problem and applied the
necessary resources.

A lot of activity is driven by a local issue, often a single issue. It can build from there as the
group works together and finds success.

Local action is critical for effective integrated resource management.

Question 3:
Identify specific actions or programs that would lead to a more sustainable future for the region.
Be specific by addressing the following questions: What can be done? How can it be done? Who
will implement it? What can WE do?

      The goal of the programs described below is the development of a sustainable ecosystem
       in the Great Plains. They require a bottom-up approach that is locally driven to be
      Conduct a regionally integrated vulnerability assessment of the Great Plains that includes
       a variety of climate model scenarios and other factors such as changes in regional
       hydrology, crop suitability, economy, demographics, and trade.
      Establish a set of integrated sustainability indicators for the Great Plains (e.g., quantity
       and quality of ground water, rates of depletion or recharge, soil loss). We need baseline
       data for these indicators.
      Establish programs for joint evaluation (research community, government, and local
       citizens/groups) of basic scientific issues (e.g., ground water depletion, water quality,
       wetland preservation).
      Goal-setting exercises at community, regional, and national levels is critical. Initial goals
       for the Great Plains should be basic and macro in scale. Local and regional goals can then
       fit under these broader goals. Manitoba is trying to do this with their local/regional round
       tables, fitting these goals into the provincial process. Local goals and actions cannot take
       place in isolation or there will be competition between communities.
      Government should establish the limits of resources. Knowing limits to available
       resources will help in integrated resource management because we need to know how
       much time is available to address problems. For example, there is an ab-solute limit to the
       availability of petroleum. There is a lack of commitment to conservation largely because
       people do not understand the limits or believe the information available.
      Establish an environmental information center. Its goal would be to put impartial data and
       information in the hands of decision makers.
      We need action. We need to convert information into action and we need to know how to
       accomplish objectives. There is a distinction between government plans and real action
       plans. There are lots of plans that will never be implemented because there was no
       community buy-in to the process. How do you initiate the process of community action?
       There must be a top-down buy-in for the bottom-up process to work. Proactive action is
       preferred, but this process is often started by a crisis (i.e., reactive response). Examples of
       success from other jurisdictions can help to get the process started. We must get political
       leaders interested if government is to buy into the process. In Manitoba, the premier

       chairs the sustainable development round table. Workbooks have been created for
       different sectors. Now this information is being made available to local round tables.
       Community action plans have not yet been developed, but there is hope that these will
       emerge from this process. In the United States, states can drive environmental policy if
       credible models are available for the federal government to follow. The vehicle for Great
       Plains action may be the Great Plains Partnership Council, which includes some
       governors and premiers and NGOs like The Nature Conservancy. Leadership is necessary
       from both the public and private sectors; public participation is also required.
      Make the report of this symposium available through Internet, possibly by the
       International Institute for Sustainable Development's Web site and/or the Great Plains
       Data Network.

What? How? Who?
The tools necessary to achieve sustainability objectives are partnerships, process, and programs.
The Bow River Water Quality Council is a good example of how this can operate. Their first step
was to develop partnerships. Participants were not paid, but representatives from local NGOs had
their expenses covered. The government facilitated this process. Where data was incomplete or
incorrect, government was able to assist in finding better data. The council made 37
recommendations, which they are now working on implementing, and public enthusiasm for the
process and the results is high.

How can you provide a focus on Great Plains sustainability? The region needs to be subdivided
because of its size and diversity in order to identify the proper focus. There are many
jurisdictions and no single authority to provide access to data. Action priorities are likely to be
different among jurisdictions, again emphasizing the importance of local involvement in the
process. Could the Great Plains Partnership Council be the tool to initiate this process? It has
political (binational) representatives that may provide the vehicle for committing resources
and/or providing some common direction. It also has NGO representatives. Whatever the
vehicle, it must have political legitimacy and be able to make concrete recommendations.

Rationale for Action
The Great Plains region must strive to find common solutions to common economic, social, and
environmental challenges. Long-term economic policies that have helped to define the region are
changing. We are in a time of flux that provides a strategic opportunity for fundamental change.

We need an effective, grassroots-driven process for setting goals, priorities, and policies for the
Great Plains region. Buy-in by the region's political (elected) leaders is essential for political
legitimacy. The elected state and provincial officials that make up the Great Plains Partnership
Council may be the logical place for political authorization.

Initiation of Task Force

The Great Plains Partnership Council, with some adjustment in membership, could provide a
starting place for a task force with broad representation. The task force representation should
include a broad base of representative stakeholders (binational interests and expertise). This
group must not be government or dominated by government. It must be able to operate
autonomously and draw on government and stakeholder data and expertise as required. The task
force should be assigned a specific time frame for achieving its objectives.

Charges to Task Force
      Determine what is necessary to achieve sustainability for the North American Great
       Plains, balancing resource availability and use.
      Assess data availability, data quality, and data gaps.
      Create indicators that provide a measure of progress toward achieving sustainability (e.g.,
       community measures, physical and biological measures, etc.).
      Develop a set of achievable goals and directions through a process of extensive public
      Once goals have been determined, work toward developing integrated policies and policy
       instruments with extensive stakeholder dialog and negotiation.
      Transfer responsibility to local groups or communities for action.

These recommendations are to be made to political sponsors (possibly the Great Plains
Partnership Council) and to the public. The report to the public must be clear, concise, and
readily understandable.

      Part IV

Demonstration Showcase


A demonstration showcase session the evening of May 8, 1995, highlighted the success of
sustainable development initiatives from throughout the Great Plains. Presenters included
university researchers, government officials, utility representatives and natural resource
managers. Topics included agricultural production techniques, ecosystem management, data
analysis, community participation in decision making, and urban water conservation.

The following section contains a list of the showcase presentations and a series of abstracts
describing most of the presentations. Please note that some presentations do not have abstracts.
For more information on these exhibits, please refer to p. 156.

Planning for a Sustainable Future: The Case of the North American
Great Plains
Demonstration Showcase Session, 6:00-9:00 p.m., May 8, 1995
D. W. Anderson (Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan)
      Sustainability of the Semiarid Prairie Ecosystem

J. Gary Davis and Tom Parks (Bureau of Reclamation, Great Plains Region, Billings, Montana)
      The Wetland Development Program in the Great Plains Region of the Bureau of

Thomas Eddy (Division of Biological Sciences, Emporia State University)
      Integrating Concepts and Practices of Sustainable Development into a Nonmajor
       Science Course

Bahman Eghball and James F. Power (USDA-ARS, Department of Agronomy, University of
      Composted and Noncomposted Beef Feedlot Manure Effects on Corn Production and
       Soil Properties

A. H. Epstein (Plant Pathology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa)
      Using Plant Pathogens as Biological Weed Control Agents: Rose Rosette Disease

Wyatt Fraas (Center for Rural Affairs, Hartington, Nebraska)
      Beginning Farmers and Sustainable Agriculture: A Sustainable Future for the Great

Charles Francis (Center for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
      Education and Research to Support Sustainable Development: A Regional Mandate in
       the North Central United States

Tammy Hays and Sandy Wolfe (Center for Environmental Solutions, Lincoln, Nebraska)
      Community-based Decision Making and Collaborative Policy Development Strategies

Fred Heal (Meewasin Valley Authority, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)
      Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin: Working Together for a Sustainable

Mason Hewitt III (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Monitoring Systems
Laboratory, Las Vegas, Nevada)
Jesslyn Brown (Hughes STX Corporation, EROS Data Center, Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
Brenda Groskinsky (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7, Kansas City, Kansas)
Wayne Ostlie (The Nature Conservancy, Great Plains Program, Minneapolis, Minnesota)
David James and David Totman (Lockheed Environmental Systems Technologies Co., Las
Vegas, Nevada)
      The Great Plains International Data Network: Supporting Science on the Great Plains

Henry Hudson (Environmental Conservation Branch, Environment Canada, Winnipeg,
      The Prairie Ecozone Planning Framework: An Ecosystemic Approach to the Activities
       of the Department of Environment
      Red RiverñLake Winnipeg Agricultural Sustainability: An Ecosystemic Approach

Thomas Huntzinger (Water Resources Division, U.S. Geological Survey, Lawrence, Kansas)
      USGS Research in the Great Plains: Assurance of a Sustainable Future
1. Scientific Information Programs in the Great Plains (Sarah Gerald, Ecosystem Management
2. Urban/Rural Values and Land Use in the Missouri River Valley as Implied by Geologic
Processes (Bill Langer, Geologic Division, Denver, Colorado)
3. Changing Conditions of Croplands and Grasslands with Climate Variations in the Great Plains
(Tom Loveland, EROS Data Center, Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Jim Crane, Rocky Mountain
Mapping Center, Denver, Colorado)
4.A Sustainable Future Depends on Water Quality (Thomas Huntzinger, National Water Quality
Assessment Program, Lawrence, Kansas)
5. The National Geochemical Data Base (Charles Severson, Geologic Division, Denver,
6. Potential for Desertification in the Great Plains (Dan Muhs, Geologic Division, Denver,
7. Integrated Information in Decision-making Environments (Ray Watts, Terra Laboratory, Fort
Collins, Colorado)

8. Earth Science through the INTERNET (Jim Crane, Rocky Mountain Mapping Center, Denver,

Larry Janssen (Economics Department, South Dakota State University, Brookings)
Diane Rickerl, E. Stebbins, T. Machacek, T. Kirschenmann, and D. Kringen (South Dakota State
University, Brookings)
      The Role of Wetlands in Sustainable Agricultural Systems

Alan Knapp, John Briggs, and John Blair (Division of Biology, Kansas State University,
      Long-term Ecological Research at the Konza Prairie Research Natural Area: Lessons
       in Sustainability from a Native Great Plains Ecosystem

Bob Kuzelka (Groundwater Foundation, Lincoln, Nebraska)
      Sustainable Groundwater Protection: Educating Local Communities

Donald Lemmen and Robert Vance (Terrain Sciences Division, Geological Survey of Canada,
Calgary, Alberta)
      Geoscience and Global Change in the Canadian Prairies: The Palliser Triangle IRMA

Steve Masters (Lincoln Water System, Lincoln, Nebraska)
      A Water Conservation Program for Lincoln, Nebraska

Bruce Maxwell, Cliff Montagne, and David Knox (Department of Plant, Soil, and Environmental
Science, Montana State University, Bozeman)
Jerry Johnson (Political Science Department, Montana State University, Bozeman)
Keith Jamtgaard (Rural Sociologist, Liberal, Kansas)
Julie Stoughton (Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman)
      Community Sustainability through Ecosystem Management and Planning

Doug McKell (Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association, Indian Head, Saskatchewan)
      The Saskatchewan Soil Enhancement Project

Debbie Nielsen and Martin Lelliot (Shand Greenhouse, SaskPower, Estevan, Saskatchewan)

      Shand Greenhouse: Part of SaskPowerís Commitment to the Environment

David Nuland, Jim Schild, and Tony Merrigan (Panhandle Research and Extension Center,
University of Nebraska, Scottsbluff)
      Examining Sustainable Options in Western Nebraska: On-Farm Research

G. A. Peterson, D. G. Westfall, and L. Ahuja (Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado
State University and USDA-ARS, Fort Collins)
      Sustainable Dryland Agroecosystems for the Great Plains

P. E. Rasmussen (USDA-ARS, Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center, Pendleton,
B. Duff and R. W. Smiley (Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center, Oregon State
University, Pendleton)
      Sustainability of Agriculture in Semiarid Cereal Regions of the Pacific Northwest
       United States

Greg Riemer (Agricultural Services, Saskatchewan Wetland Conservation Corporation, Regina)
Julia Taylor and D. Burden (Department of Agricultural Economics, University of
Saskatchewan, Saskatoon)
      Socioeconomic Impacts of the North American Waterfowl Management Program

Bill Rietveld (USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station,
National Agroforestry Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
      Agroforestry: Blending Agriculture and Forestry Production and Conservation

Paul Todhunter (Department of Geography, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks)
      Impact of Conservation Practices on Wind Erosion in the Red River Valley of North
       Dakota: 1948ñ91

Allen Tyrchniewicz (International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg, Manitoba)
      IISD's Great Plains Program

Jim Webber and David Hill (Eastern Irrigation District, Brooks, Alberta)
      Reverse Engineering the Sustainable Development Process: Adapting Eight Decades of
       Experience to Enhance the Future

Elaine Wheaton (Saskatchewan Research Council, Saskatoon)
      Developing Climatic Adaptation Programs for Canadian Prairies Sustainability

Anthony Yeboah (North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro)
      Soil and Water Conservation Practices of Farmers in Central Mali

Showcase Abstracts

      D. W. Anderson
Sustainability of the Semiarid Prairie Ecosystem
The Prairie Ecosystem Study (PECOS) is an interdisciplinary study involving scientists at the
universities of Saskatchewan and Regina, Environment Canada, and Agriculture Canada. The
study area encompasses 15,700 km2 of the semiarid prairie region, or Palliser Triangle, which is
primarily a wheat-producing region with large and highly capitalized farms (mixed
grain-livestock farms or ranches). The study area contains a variety of landscapes and soils,
ranging from the level, highly productive clay soils in the northwestern part with large wheat
farms to hilly, stony, or sandy soils where grazing is the dominant land use. The South
Saskatchewan River crosses the area from west to east. The area is at the margin of cultivated
agriculture, limited by the semiarid climate with 300 to 350 mm precipitation. Problems in the
area include the uncertain climate, with the prospect of greater frequency of droughts in many
climate change scenarios; depressed prices for products; declining rural communities and
services; concerns about the well-being of the people; and concerns of soil and environmental

PECOS brings together scientists from agricultural, biological, health, engineering, and
socioeconomic spheres to address questions relating to the sustainability of the region. Included
on the study team are adjunct professors from the Canadian Wildlife Service and National
Hydrology Research Centre, research centers of Environment Canada, and Agriculture and
Agri-Food Canada's Swift Current Research Station.

The study has three foci. The first is socioeconomic, with an emphasis on the factors that
influence agricultural practices (and conservation) and community development. Five students
will be involved in research project A (Determinants of Agricultural Practices) and six will be
involved in research project B (Agriculture and the Structure of Rural Communities). The
research carried out in project A will focus on the following areas: (1) the role of economic
policy and incentives in agricultural practice, (2) social and cultural determinants of agricultural
practice, (3) the history of social settlement and ecology of the study area, (4) an examination of
sustainability at the farm level, and (5) philosophical dimensions of sustainability. The research
carried out in project B will focus on the following areas: (1) community living and well-being
of the elderly, (2) rural crime and justice, (3) health policy and practice, (4) educational reform,
(5) the economic stability of communities, and (6) the overall sustainability of the communities.

The second focus is an assessment of the potential health risk associated with exposure to
environmentally occurring pesticides and toxic elements. The objectives of Study Focus 2 are to
(1) characterize the pesticide exposure levels of farm families and town residents living in the
study area; (2) assess the extent to which exposure to the herbicides or insecticides is associated
with acute health effects (i.e., changes in neuro-behavioral function and induction of

auto-antibodies); (3) explore the nature and extent of pesticide residues and trace elements in
drinking water, and evaluate the potential synergistic or antagonistic acute effects of these on
human health (neuro-behavioral, immunological, and respiratory) outcomes; (4) understand the
individual's and community's perspective on the relative importance of pesticide-related health
problems; and (5) assess the feasibility of conducting a similar interdisciplinary prospective
cohort study, using the methods proposed for this study, in the same and other populations
(Saskatchewan native people, MÈtis, and Hutterites) with differing farming practices.

The third focus addresses the health of the land and the biota. The impact of agriculture,
particularly today's agriculture based on reduced tillage and greater use of herbicides, will be
assessed from several integrated perspectives: soil quality, transport of contaminants with
sediments in runoff, ecotoxicology of potholes within agricultural land, hydrological processes
and soil moisture, biodegradation of herbicides, and trace element biogeochemistry. Three
projects will deal with biodiversity, concentrating on the vegetation (in natural and cultivated
ecosystems), the genetic diversity of bird species, and fungal biodiversity in native, burned, and
cultivated ecosystems. A project dealing with fire and its effects on mid-grass prairie is planned
for the Matador grassland reserve, and several projects that deal with biodiversity will provide
descriptive ecology and contribute to knowledge for selecting and setting up interpretive trails of
interest to local students and ecotourists. There will be work on the ecology of woody shrubs and
effects of agriculture, and on the food chain of upland birds and water fowl within agricultural
areas. Ranching, and the potential for diversifying local economies by expanding livestock
farming (both grazing and intensive operations such as swine operations), will be examined in
relation to socioeconomic factors and more sustainable land use.

The research strategies of the three foci are interwoven and include joint sampling and data
acquisition and a shared geographical information system (GIS) data base. The study will be
community-based, involving local people in the design and implementation of the study. A
research center will be set up within the study area to promote interaction among investigators
and students as well as with residents of the study area.

Graduate student training is an important component of PECOS, with a requirement for
interdisciplinary approaches, common study areas, and linked and shared data bases. The study
should provide input for the formulation of policies in agriculture, land use, and social
development within the region, as influenced by external factors such as national policies,
international trade, and global change.

      J. Gary Davis and Tom Parks
The Wetland Development Program in the Great Plains Region of the Bureau of Reclamation
The Great Plains Region's Wetland Development Program was conceived and proposed for
funding in 1989 in response to the nation's growing concern over avoidable and unmitigated
impacts to wetlands and riparian habitat and in an effort to help the administration attain its "no
net loss" of wetlands goal. The Region's Wetland Development Program has been largely

successful in contributing to these goals and continues to generate support from throughout the
Bureau of Reclamation, the administration, and the public. The agency now promotes the
Wetland Development Program as an example of its commitment to undertake programs with a
major emphasis on resource management and greater environmental sensitivity. The Wetland
Development Program consists of an ambitious effort to restore, enhance, and develop wetlands
and riparian habitat throughout a nine-state area stretching east from the continental divide
through North Dakota south to the Gulf of Mexico. Public and private partnerships developed
through the Wetland Development Program have been responsible for construction of wetland
impoundments and moist soil management units in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana,
Nebraska, and Oklahoma; wetland and riparian habitat enhancement in Colorado, Wyoming, and
Texas; and North American Waterfowl Management Plan joint venture activities in North
Dakota, Montana, and Nebraska. Projects have been completed in every state within the Region
and additional projects are in varying stages of planning and completion.

      Thomas Eddy
Integrating Concepts and Practices of Sustainable Development into a Non-major Science
This exhibit describes a process of introducing college freshmen to the basics of sustainable
management of Great Plains resources by integrating principles, concepts, and practices into a
traditional course in general biology for non-majors. Students from the disciplines of business,
economics, sociology, education, and the humanities are exposed to the values of permanence in
the Great Plains ecosystem. Biome studies consider global problems but emphasize impacts of
climate change, annual monocultures, declining fossil fuel supplies, point and nonpoint
pollution, aquifer and wetland depletion, introduction of exotics, and the role of population
pressures on the integrity of the future of the Great Plains.

Terminology and principles necessary to understanding the topics of sustainable management are
introduced as they relate to specific case histories of Great Plains resource ecology and
management. Economic, social, and ecological relationships are illustrated with each case
history. Students are asked to write short essays on sustainable planning as it relates to their
academic discipline. Pre- and post-tests measure changes in knowledge and attitudes concerning
sustainable development issues. Consequences of no or poor planning on the future of the region
are discussed. The geology, ecology, and case studies of sustainable development are illustrated
with Kodachromes and videos, and field trips are planned to examine the results of sustainable
planning. The course seeks to equip students to make sound decisions affecting the future of the
Great Plains environment.

      Bahman Eghball and James F. Power
Composted and Noncomposted Beef Feedlot Manure Effects on Corn Production and Soil
Composted and noncomposted manure can be used as nutrient sources for crop production. The
effectiveness of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) loading rates of these organic nutrient sources

for crop production and their effects on soil properties and environment need further study. The
objective of this study was to determine the effects of composted and noncomposted beef feedlot
manure at different loading rates and application times on corn production and soil properties.

Composted and noncomposted beef cattle feedlot manure was applied to meet N or P
requirements of corn for either one- or two-year periods. Plots with adequate manure or compost
for corn P requirements also received additional N as fertilizer (ammonium nitrate). Fertilizer
and no-fertilizer checks were also included in the experiment. Nitrogen and P requirements of
corn were determined based on the removal of N (151 kg ha-1) and P (25.8 kg ha-1) by corn with
an expected yield level of 9.4 Mg ha-1 (150 bu acre-1). The manure and compost N and P
availability were assumed to be 40%, 20%, 10%, and 5% of total N and P in the first, second,
third, and fourth year after application, respectively. These numbers were later modified to 20%,
20%, 10%, and 5% for compost N and 40%, 20%, 10%, and 5% for manure N; 60%, 20%, 10%,
and 10% were used for manure or compost P applied in 1994. We have been applying manure
and composted manure in the autumn of each year or every other year since 1992. The materials
were disked in soon after application. The area was planted to corn (rainfed) every spring. After
corn harvest in the autumn of 1993 and 1994, soil samples were taken to 1.2 m depth from all
plots. The samples were used to determine several soil properties.

In 1993, corn grain yield increased with manure or compost application compared with the
no-fertilizer check (Table 1). Corn receiving manure produced similar or slightly higher grain
than the fertilizer check. Composted manure was not as effective as noncomposted manure or
fertilizer check. Applying noncomposted or composted manure to satisfy corn P requirements,
with more N added as fertilizer, resulted in the same grain yield as manure or compost
application for plant N requirement or fertilizer check. Compost or manure applied for N or P
requirements of corn for two years resulted in grain yield similar to that for the fertilizer check.
Composted manure was not as effective as noncomposted manure or fertilizer in the first year of
application, probably because of the assumed low N availability from composted manure.
First-year N availability from composted manure was about 20% of total N; we had assumed it to
be about 40%.

                                    1993                                           1994
 Variables    Grain       P++         NO3-Nion      EC        Grain      P++         NO3-Nion EC
              Mg ha-1     -----mg     kg-1 ------   d S m-1   Mg ha-1    -----mg     kg-1 ------   d S m-1
 Fertilizer   8.2         77          3.5           0.20      9.9        77          3.7           0.14
 Check        6.0         60          2.4           0.20      6.2        48          1.7           0.13
 Manure       8.6         110         7.3           0.27      9.3        122         4.6           0.25
 for N
 Manure       8.8         74          4.1           0.25      9.9        54          3.3           0.22
 for P
 Manure       8.7         125         9.5           0.30      9.9        126         5.5           0.23
 for N/2y

 Manure       6.9         125         9.1          0.30       10.0       111        4.9          0.21
 for P/2y
 Compost      7.8         104         3.6          0.26       9.1        111        5.2          0.28
 for N
 Compost      7.9         80          3.7          0.23       9.5        81         4.1          0.20
 for P
 Compost      7.7         224         6.3          0.34       8.8        195        3.6          0.22
 for N/2y
 Compost                  89          3.7          0.23       9.6        98         4.6          0.21
 for P/2y
 LSD                      28          2.0          0.03                  37         1.9          .0.08

Grain yields were similar for all manure, compost, and fertilizer treatments in 1994 (Table 1). It
seems that when adjusted for N availability, manure and compost can provide corn grain yield
that is equivalent to or greater than fertilizer application. However, surface soil levels of plant
available P, NO3-Nion, and EC were significantly greater with higher rates of manure and
compost application than for fertilizer, check, or manure or compost application for plant P
requirements. These high levels of salt, nitrate, and P can be carried by runoff and contaminate
surface waters. Nitrate also has the potential to leach into the ground water. In 1993, the Bray
and Kurtz #1 P soil test extracted 70% of manure P and 64% of compost P that were applied in
1992. This indicates high plant availability of manure or compost P. It seems that manure or
compost application to provide plant P requirements, with additional N as fertilizer, is a viable
option for producing high grain yield with no or very few adverse effects on the soil and the
environment. High rates of manure or compost application have the potential to contaminate the
surface and ground waters.

      A. H. Epstein
Using Plant Pathogens as Biological Weed Control Agents: Rose Rosette Disease
Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora Thunb), a thorny shrub native to Japan and other areas of
northeast Asia, has naturalized over much of the eastern two-thirds of the United States. Land
infested by this plant quickly becomes unsuitable for either pasture or recreational uses. Rose
rosette disease, lethal to multiflora rose, is now present in most of the naturalized range of this
weedy plant. The causal agent of this disease has a very narrow host range, and our research has
shown that it is both effective and safe as a biological agent for the control of multiflora rose.

The disease occurs sporadically in the field and, under most circumstances, does not result in the
elimination of multiflora rose. We have found that by augmenting the natural infection occurring
in the field, the disease can be intensified in selected tracts of rose-infested land to eliminate
more than 98% of the multiflora rose stand in five to six years. Ornamental rose plantings
located more than one-half mile from the treated land are not subject to any greater-than-normal
risk of infection from this process.

Persons interested in using this system of multiflora rose control will be expected to attend a
two-hour training session (Extension). Application of this biological control system in the field
will involve about two hours of labor and less than $1.50 for expendable materials per site (field,
pasture, and so forth).

      Wyatt Fraas
Beginning Farmers and Sustainable Agriculture: A Sustainable Future for the Great Plains
The Beginning Farmer Sustainable Agriculture Project has worked since 1991 to increase the
ability of beginning farmers to enter farming using environmentally sustainable practices.
Mutual-help discussion groups, farmer-designed education programs, and other support for
learning about and experimenting with whole-farm sustainable agricultural systems have
improved the success of a study group of farmers in northeast Nebraska. These farmers have
tried, implemented, and, in turn, taught sustainable agriculture practices to others during the
project period.

Sustainable farming practices that conserve natural resources and minimize use of nonrenewable
resources are a good fit with beginning farmers. Beginning farmers are receptive to these
practices because they have not yet committed to a particular type of farming. Such practices fit
their resources of management ability, labor availability, and creativity. These farmers are the
strategically critical population to achieve a sustainable agriculture because of agricultural
demographics. The average age of U.S. farmers is 50 years, and more than half of U.S. farmland
is controlled by farmers likely to retire in the next decade. Young farmers who succeed these
senior farmers will control the farmland resource base for the next generation, offering a
significant opportunity to improve the environmental stewardship and sustainability of U.S.

The project has discovered special needs of beginning farmers. They need information geared to
limited-resource farming because they cannot afford the capital-intensive technology of
conventional agriculture. They need information geared to beginners and their existing resources,
typically about use of crops, facilities, and other resources indigenous to the farm rather than
purchased off-farm. They need social outlets and peer support, because alternative approaches
are often denigrated locally and because they may be isolated socioculturally. They need thriving
rural economies, since most need off-farm jobs to support the farm while it develops enough to
support both growth and family living expenses.

Contrary to a recent report that global warming would have little overall effect on U.S.
agriculture and that an increase in irrigation would suffice to offset changes, we believe a more
complex and environmentally sound response to climate change will be required. In an era of
environmental and economic instability, sustainable agriculture techniques that increase farm
biological diversity, environmental stability, and flexibility in management will ensure the
survival of both farmers and our food supply system. We have begun to equip beginning farmers

with the managerial tools to make such a transition in their agriculture. Several have already
taken steps to address social, economic, and environmental sustainability on their farms.

An additional project begun in 1994, the Nebraska Ag IMPACT Project, extends group activities
to established farmers and non-farm community members across Nebraska. These groups are
learning about, researching, and demonstrating environmentally sound farming practices that
benefit their farms and communities. Local projects include controlled grazing in riparian areas,
farm marketing and management for women, maintaining grass cover on CRP land, computer
linkages for farm information exchange, and organic certification of farm crops. These groups
have actively engaged farmers and ranchers, Extension personnel, researchers, technical
assistance providers, and community members.

      Charles Francis, Steve Waller, Elbert Dickey, and James King
Education and Research to Support Sustainable Development: A Regional Mandate in the
North Central United States
Collaboration in the north central United States among universities, federal and state
governments, private foundations, nonprofit organizations, farmers and ranchers, and
commercial interests has resulted in a comprehensive education and research effort to promote
sustainable development. Aware of the fragile ecosystem and complicated government program
environment, specialists have planned and implemented an innovative portfolio of research
activities related to efficient resource use in crop and animal systems. Alternatives that are
profitable in the short and long terms and that promote a healthy environment have been tested
and demonstrated with collaboration of farmers and ranchers in the region. Multidisciplinary and
multistate projects have been financed by the federal Sustainable Agriculture Research and
Education Program and the Agriculture in Concert with the Environment Program, and by
numerous private initiatives funded by W. K. Kellogg, Northwest Area, and other foundations in
the region. Innovative education efforts in the classroom and in Extension settings are building
the potentials for a lifelong involvement in learning. Research and education symposia have been
sponsored in several states to share results and ideas. A major book series, Our Sustainable
Future, has been launched by the University of Nebraska Press. Educators and farmers are
currently exploring the feasibility of a regional institute for sustainable systems that would offer
undergraduate and graduate educational opportunities, using the concept of a university without
walls and a faculty that includes academics, farmers, ranchers, business people, nonprofit group
specialists, government agency personnel, and others. Major policy work has been accomplished
by the Center for Rural Affairs and the Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. This regional
model provides an example of seeking shared goals and pooled resources toward a common and
sustainable future.

      Tammy Hays and Sandy Wolfe
Community-based Decision Making and Collaborative Policy Development Strategies
As an objective third party, the Center for Environmental Solutions (CES) is engaged in
facilitating consensus-building initiatives among divergent and competing interest groups. This

symposium has pointed out that future success in sustainable development in the North
American Great Plains will depend on the experiences and involvement of citizen groups,
communities, commodity organizations, and government agencies. Further, it has become clear
that the implementation of Agenda 21, the "blueprint" of sustainable development principles
developed at the Rio Earth Summit, must be actively pursued on the local level.

At the symposium's demonstration showcase session, CES material highlighted both
community-based participatory decision-making models (for example, community advisory
panels) and collaborative policy development strategies (e.g., policy dialogues and regulatory

The objective was to make symposium participants aware of constructive ways to resolve
conflicts that can result when different stakeholding interest groups (such as those noted above)
converge in response to a pressing issue. A critical component in successfully confronting and
resolving sustainable development challenges is to design a framework that (1) acknowledges
conflicting perspectives and (2) strives to incorporate stakeholders' values and critical interests in
making decisions that will ultimately affect them.

We hope that attendees who visited the CES area departed with greater awareness of alternative
problem-solving mechanisms as well as some new insights that will encourage them to approach
sustainable development challenges in a new way. A short video was presented that addressed
issues associated with governmental leadership and how different kinds and styles of leadership
result in particular policy decisions and affect public perceptions. A number of informational
resources were available as well.

The principles and tools of public participation, collaboration, and participatory decision making
are crosscutting and relevant to all aspects of sustainable development. Building consensus and
establishing multidisciplinary partnerships will play a critical role in educating various public
and private entities and motivating them to action.

      Fred Heal
Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin: Working Together for a Sustainable Future
The Saskatchewan River Basin is one of the largest and most diverse basins on the North
American Great Plains. It is an international watershed draining more than 150,000 square miles,
including portions of Montana and the three prairie provinces. Some 2.8 million people rely on
its aquatic and related land resources for their economic and cultural well-being. Hydroelectric,
flood control, agriculture, industrial, domestic, and recreational needs from both inside and
outside the basin increasingly put pressure on the resource. Environmental problems associated
with the Saskatchewan River systems, although significant, are not severe enough to prevent
broad-based cooperation and commitment to preventative action from being effective in
achieving sustainable development of the northern plains' most vital resource - water.

Before formation of the Partners project, there was no cohesive mechanism to link the basin's
many jurisdictions, local governments, and academic, business, education, and other
nongovernment organizations in a concerted effort to focus on the future of the basin ecosystem.
Emerging interjurisdictional issues in the area of water resource management, allocation, pricing,
diversion, quality, and climatic change will require an approach in which these issues can be
discussed intelligently and considered by the public from a practical and informed perspective to
ensure their successful resolution.

Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin is one such approach. This initial three-year
Environmental Citizenship program is designed to develop awareness and knowledge of and
commitment to sustaining the aquatic and related land resources of the Saskatchewan River
Basin. It can be described as an evolving case study in contemporary thinking about decision
making and practicing partnerships.

The project uses an ecosystem approach, integrating economics, environment, and society, the
cornerstones of sustainable development. It employs an innovative operational model that
functions to close the gap between the individual and senior policy and decision makers. In so
doing, it becomes grassroots-based. The project is committed to ensuring the equitable
expression of the views and perspectives of all sectors, including industry, government,
environment, education, and cultural organizations.

The measurable results after 24 months of operation include:
      the commitment of more than 100 partner organizations from across the basin to work
       cooperatively to help the project achieve its goals;
      a qualitative and quantitative basinwide survey that highlights the greatest needs in the
       areas of public information and education about water and water management;
      a strategic action plan that evolved out of a multistakeholder conference;
      a growing recognition of the importance of partnerships to work across jurisdictional and
       sectoral boundaries and their leveraging ability for adding resources;
      eleven action projects (now in development). These include information projects such as
       a basin research needs identification workshop, education programs such as a water
       training institute for educators, an EcoCanoe tour of the South Saskatchewan river, and
       direct action demonstration projects including a riparian habitat restoration program; and
      a proposal to incorporate the Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin as a nonprofit
       membership association to continue beyond the initial three-year period.

The Partners project is managed by the Meewasin Valley Authority, a river corridor conservation
agency established by provincial statute and based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin is planning for a sustainable future through
informing, educating, and motivating the citizens of the basin. There will be difficult decisions to
make in the future; an informed public must be part of the process.

The project is funded in part by Environment Canada with matching funding from government
and nongovernment organizations throughout the basin.

      Mason Hewitt, Jesslyn Brown, Brenda Groskinsky, Wayne Ostlie, David James, and
       David Totman
The Great Plains International Data Network: Supporting Science on the Great Plains
The Great Plains has experienced more change in land cover resulting from agricultural
development than any other region in North America. More than 70% of the Plains' original
grasslands have been converted to agricultural or other altered land uses. Although
environmental researchers are now concerned about losing further diversity of biological
resources, residents of rural communities are concerned about protecting their economic stability
and livelihoods. These differing, and sometimes opposing, concerns, combined with obstacles to
sharing data and information, detract from progress toward solving issues by both rural residents
and scientific researchers.

Although research is being conducted on many issues concerning the Great Plains, activities are
often carried out in relative isolation, and the results frequently are not widely available to other
scientists, policy makers, and the local population. Sharing of data and results within the
scientific community is needed to reduce redundant or unnecessary research, and, perhaps more
importantly, to stimulate discussion. To make wise decisions on the local level, policy makers
need access to current, accurate, nonbiased information covering a variety of topics including,
but not limited to, natural resources, landownership, agricultural practices, biodiversity, water
quality, population, and economics. A major challenge is to transfer the knowledge gained
through scientific research to practical applications in the public and private sector. New forms
of collaboration and data exchange are needed to cross institutional, international, and political
boundaries, and flexible tools are needed for data integration and exchange.

The Great Plains International Data Network (GPIDN) was formed in 1993 to address these
basic data access and integration issues. Objectives of the GPIDN include identifying the
requirements for data, determining what data exist, developing the means to exchange data, and
providing information and results to the network members and the general public. The major
participants in the formation of the GPIDN include the Environmental Protection Agency, The
Nature Conservancy, and the government of Manitoba. These organizations all have
representation in the Coordinating Committee of the network.

Membership in the Data Network is open to all parties interested in participating in a Great
Plains program that facilitates access, exchange, and integration of data bases relating to the

region. Current activities include an inventory of Great Plains data sets in North American
universities, government agencies, and private organizations; development of network access to
ongoing research results and data; the design of information products (including a Great Plains
atlas); and the identification of resources for GPIDN activities.

The GPIDN has made an initial step toward improving communication and providing access to
data and results. Staff at the EPA Environmental Monitoring Systems Laboratory in Las Vegas
have designed and implemented a hypertext home page, which is accessible through the Internet
using a World Wide Web browser such as National Center for Supercomputing Applications'
Mosaic. This provides the GPIDN with a mechanism for communication and, in the future,
actual exchange of data and results between scientists, policy makers, and local residents of the
North American Great Plains.

      Henry Hudson
Red River-Lake Winnipeg Agricultural Sustainability: An Ecosystemic Approach
The "Tobacco Creek" initiative is a multiagency, multidisciplinary study with a high level of
local agricultural producer involvement. The 10-year study, which started in 1991, seeks to
evaluate agricultural impacts on the environment and to recommend and implement best
management practices through citizenship, partnerships, environmental guidelines, and economic

A nested study design is employed. Soil erosion, runoff, and nutrient and pesticide flux are
measured at two small (10 hectares) experimental watersheds in the headwaters of South
Tobacco Creek (STC), the north arm of STC, and STC near the mouth (70 km2). The latter site
has long-term runoff and sediment load records. Atmospheric deposition of chemicals,
precipitation, snow cover, and soil and air temperatures are also recorded at the experimental
watersheds. The area consists primarily of moderately sloped hummocky moraines that are
largely cultivated (70% of the area) and forested escarpments and deeply incised stream valleys.

Detailed information on agricultural management practice is obtained through the Deerwood Soil
and Water Management Association and local producers for 300 separate fields comprising 76
km2 (19,000 acres). Almost all of STC and part of North Tobacco Creek are surveyed.
Information includes crop type, dates seeded and harvested, and yields; agri-chemical use; tillage
practice; manure application rates and dates; straw management practices; ground cover; and so
forth. The cooperation of the local producers is essential to obtain this level of proprietary
information. The detailed agricultural practice information is supplemented with chemical use by
the rural municipalities. Basinwide detailed soil characteristics, including chemistry, are
available and stream, riparian, and upland sediment budgets are being documented to evaluate
nonpoint source pollution and its evolution downstream. Stream channel and riparian sources
appear to be a major source of sediment and nutrients.

To scale up the small basin detailed monitoring and modeling, 14 major tributaries and main
stem sites on the Red River are continuously monitored for streamflow and sampled for
sediment, pesticide, and nutrient flux on an event basis. These data are to be combined with
census data and detailed soil chemistry to model sources, pathways, fates, and effects of
agricultural, municipal, and urban activities in the Lake Winnipeg drainage.

Following a model calibration period, which may take several years, land uses will be
manipulated and changes compared with model predictions. The second phase of the project,
which is in its formative stage, will examine the effects of agriculture and other land uses
(municipalities and cities) on the sustainability of the ecosystem (i.e., economic viability of best
management practices, and impacts on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems).

An understanding of land use management effects on ecosystems is fundamental to
sustainability. Environmental and economic models will be evaluated with measured ecosystem
responses to land use changes. The results may be used to make informed decisions about
agricultural best management practices and to help in the development of relevant and effective
guidelines for agricultural practice.

      Henry Hudson
The Prairie Ecozone Planning Framework: An Ecosystemic Approach to the Activities of the
Department of Environment
Environment Canada, Prairie and Northern Region, is undertaking an ecozone planning process
to help it define the issues, knowledge gaps, and priorities on which it should be focusing its
resources. This process will provide the rationale for its research and its monitoring and
assessment programs, and it will also provide opportunities for partners to discuss and develop
effective and efficient cooperative arrangements. Because of the size (approximately 5 million
km2) and diversity of the Prairie and Northern Region, it is proposed that the planning be based
on the region's major ecozones (prairies, boreal, cordillera, taiga, and arctic), which extend
across geopolitical boundaries (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the Northwest

Environment Canada (EC) is planning to host workshops for each of these ecozones to obtain the
assistance of other federal departments, the provinces and territories, universities, and other
stakeholders in defining knowledge gaps and priority issues. It is proposed that the knowledge
gaps and priority issues be defined without limitations of jurisdiction or mandate. Once the gaps
and priorities have been defined, the partners will determine the roles and responsibilities of the

To understand the implications of taking an ecozone-based ecosystem approach to planning, and
to facilitate the workshops, an ecosystem framework document has been drafted and preliminary

situational analyses have been undertaken. These analyses address areas that are thought to be
within the mandate of EC.

The situational analysis has taken the following form, although this is expected to evolve with
the addition of stressors and the participation of partners:
1. Stressor analysis: issues and effects of the stressor.
2. Management questions: (a) public/policy questions; (b) institutional questions; (c) science
3. Results to be achieved (without jurisdiction or mandate constraints).
4. Strategies: for science, management, and service/citizenship.
5. Roles and responsibilities of EC.
6. Business plans for EC.
7. Information needs, including hydrology and climate.
8. Implications for EC: (a) linkages to existing programs; (b) critical success factors (i.e., what is
required in terms of funding, expertise, partnerships, and so forth to deliver the required results).

A prairie ecozone workshop was planned for the fall of 1995. Environment Canada will use the
results of the workshop to help define its long-term agenda in the ecozone and to build
partnerships. This workshop will engage the participants in dialogue concerning the merits of the
proposed approach.

       Thomas Huntzinger
Water Quality Assessment in the Great Plains: Assurance of a Sustainable Future
The ocean of grass once native to the Great Plains is now one of the most productive agricultural
regions in the world. Evaporation progressively exceeds precipitation from east to west and north
to south. This sometimes harsh and often water-limited environment challenges policy makers
and water managers who are responsible for assuring the long-term availability of public water
supplies, irrigation, and aquatic habitats. A scientific look at the hydrology of this landscape
would help assess its sustainability, economic value, and environmental and biological quality.

The U.S. Geological Survey began the National Water Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA)
in 1991. Goals of the program are to describe the status of and trends in the quality of a large
representative part of the nation's surface and ground water resources and to provide a sound
scientific understanding of the primary natural and human factors affecting the quality of these
resources. The principal design of the NAWQA program is based on study unit investigations of
hydrologic systems that include parts of most major river basins and aquifer systems in the Great
Plains. All or part of 18 study units that are up to 40,000 sq mi in size cover the Great Plains.

The Central Nebraska Basins study unit is typical of the study units in the Great Plains.
Production agriculture is the primary economic base and a major factor in policy decisions. This
area is dominated by large contiguous areas of cropland in the Platte River valley, in contrast to
large areas of grassland in the Sandhills. The Platte River alluvium serves as the source for most
of the public water supply and a major source of irrigation water. Public water supplies rely on
induced recharge of Platte River water to the alluvium to sustain supplies. In addition to water
supplies, streams and wetlands serve as aquatic habitat for typical prairie species and include
critical habitat for endangered species in the middle reach of the Platte River.

Water quality is an important consideration in this area because of the extensive use of
agricultural chemicals. Increased concentration of nitrate in ground water and large
concentrations of pesticides in the Platte River threaten public supply wells in the alluvium. The
critical habitat reaches of the Platte River and other wetland areas are also vulnerable to water
quality degradation from agricultural chemicals. The NAWQA study in central Nebraska will
provide essential information to address these water quality issues. Water quality samples have
been collected at 9 fixed sites on the Platte River and selected tributaries to determine
concentrations of pesticides and nutrients. Sampling schedules have been designed to document
spring runoff when concentrations of pesticides are the largest. Low-flow samples have been
collected at about 30 selected sites to determine baseline concentrations of pesticides and
nutrients. Ground water sampling wells have been drilled at multiple depths at selected locations
in the alluvium to determine the sources and three-dimensional movement of pesticides and
nutrients, particularly nitrate, in the alluvium of the Platte River valley. Ecological information is
being collected at the 9 fixed sites and at about 30 wetland sites to determine the biological and
aquatic habitat characteristics of the study area, particularly those aquatic habitats critical to
threatened species.

Interpretive analysis of the field information is focused on the water supply and aquatic and
riparian habitat issues in the study unit. Results are communicated through traditional reports,
magazines, and journals. In addition, meetings are held with a liaison committee whose
membership includes local and special interest organizations, and state and federal agencies. The
liaison committee generally meets twice a year to assist in planning activities, review and
comment on interim results, and facilitate communication of results. Implications of NAWQA
results will influence water policy and water quality management in the central Nebraska study
unit. Similar activities and results from other study units will collectively contribute to more
informed water policy for the Great Plains.

      L. Janssen, D. Rickerl, E. Stebbins, T. Machacek, T. Kirschenmann, D. Kringen, and D.
The Role of Wetlands in Sustainable Agricultural Systems
Wetlands affect the sustainability of agriculture by providing hay and forage, trapping sediment
and runoff, and storing water for crop use. Agricultural practices can influence wetland water
quantity and quality, habitat value, and species diversity. The specific objectives of this project
are to (1) research the impact of farm production systems on avian populations, (2) determine the

effects of farm production systems on water quantity and quality of wetland areas that are
hydrologically linked to ground water, (3) estimate production costs and net returns of farm
production systems adapted to the field tracts, and (4) compare selected economic and
environmental tradeoffs between different farm production systems in agricultural wetland areas.

Three farmers who own and operate farms (conventional [CON], transitional no-till [TNT], and
organic [ORG]) in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) are cooperators. The TNT and CON
management systems use synthetic fertilizers and generally no pesticides. The scientists and
technical people involved in the study have expertise in the areas of agronomy, economics,
microbiology, and wildlife.

Analysis of biodiversity of wetlands in the different agricultural systems is underway. Waterfowl
pair counts averaged across wetland classes indicated greater species richness in the ORG system
than in the other two systems. Also, species diversity of wetland vegetation is greater in the ORG

Water budgets were determined for upland and wetland sites. At the upland sites, precipitation
was 85% of the input, with soil water supplying 15% of the output. The major output was
evapotranspiration (72%). At the wetland site, runon was the major input to the water budget
(60%). Overflow accounted for 36% of the wetland output and surface storage/seepage
accounted for 40%. Evapotranspiration at the wetland site was much lower than at the upland

Nitrate concentrations were consistently higher in the semipermanent wetland areas than in the
seasonal wetland areas. Orthophosphate concentrations were not significantly different between
these two wetland classifications in 1993, but were higher in seasonal than in semipermanent
wetland areas in 1994. The data show a steady decrease in phosphate concentration as we move
upland in the landscape. Higher concentrations in wetland than in upland ground water may
indicate that some soluble P is moving through the system and/or that the sorption capacity of the
wetland soils has been exceeded.

The relative ranking of net returns by management systems from 1992 to 1994 are TNT > CON
> ORG. However, high levels of organic premiums from marketing 1994 crops changed the
ranking to ORG > TNT > CON.

Production costs per acre by management system from lowest to highest are ORG < TNT <
CON. The organic (ORG) system has lower reported average yields and considerably lower
production costs per acre than the other management systems. The organic system also has
greater reliance on a diversified crop rotation system. The TNT system generally has the least
diversity of crop rotations, intermediate-level production costs, and similar yields or higher
yields than reported in the CON system. The added costs of more tillage and machinery

operations in the CON system exceeds any reduction in chemical costs compared to the TNT

Crop yields were collected by plant scientists from monitored wetland sites adjacent to crop
fields. Yields were collected from the following distances: first crop row at the wetland border,
and 75', 150', and 300' out from the first crop row sampled. Net returns were calculated based on
collected yields. The analysis indicated that the 1992 and 1994 averaged net returns for corn
were negative in the first crop row and increasingly positive at each distance out from the
wetland to 300'.

"Model" farms that incorporate natural resource characteristics and suggest specific management
systems for wetlands in agricultural areas of the Prairie Pothole Region are being developed.
These model farms will be used to further study the possible impacts of wetlands on the
sustainability of agricultural systems in the region.

      Alan Knapp, John Briggs, and John Blair
Long-term Ecological Research at the Konza Prairie Research Natural Area: Lessons in
Sustainability from a Native Great Plains Ecosystem
Since 1981, scientists at the Konza Prairie Research Natural Area in northeast Kansas have been
involved in the National Science Foundation supported program of Long Term Ecological
Research (LTER). At present, there are 17 such sites in the United States, Puerto Rico, and
Antarctica. The LTER program was initiated in response to the realization that many important
ecological phenomena, including the features that confer stability and sustainability to
ecosystems, can only be studied and understood on time scales of decades or longer. At the
Konza Prairie LTER site, research focuses on the long-term responses of tall grass prairie to
variations in fire frequency and grazing by large ungulates. Patterns and processes are studied at
the organismic, population, community, ecosystem, and landscape levels. Specific core areas of
study include research on patterns and controls of net primary production, organic and inorganic
nutrient dynamics, key populations that represent the trophic structure of the system, and the role
that disturbance plays in tall grass prairie. In response to climate change predictions, a number of
field manipulations have been established, and computer simulation modeling exercises
completed, to assess the future sustainability of the tall grass prairie, as well as identify potential
changes that may occur. Examples highlighting the value of long-term multidisciplinary research
will be presented, as will model predictions and results from research focusing on system
responses to climate change.

      Bob Kuzelka
Sustainable Ground Water Protection: Educating Local Communities
Ground water needs champions! An often-forgotten but critical resource, ground water supplies
drinking water for half of all Americans. The best place to protect ground water is within the
communities by local citizens who understand the geographic issues associated with its use.

With this as a guiding philosophy, the Groundwater Foundation has developed a program to
promote community-based ground water protection solutions on a nationwide basis. Through the
program, known as Groundwater Guardian, the Foundation provides support and recognition for
communities taking extraordinary care of their ground water source. The program also enables
the Foundation to address the national need for a vital, sustainable network of such communities
and their citizens.

Communities are encouraged to enter the program regardless of the status of their ground water
protection process. Community involvement in the program begins with the forming of a
Groundwater Guardian team. This must be a diverse group, comprising representatives from
citizen groups, local government, educational institutions, and local business, industry, and
agriculture. Annual entry forms are submitted to the Foundation; these forms request information
about the community, its ground water supply and problems, how the program can help the
community to address these problems, and a membership roster of its Groundwater Guardian

Once the entry form has been accepted by the Foundation, the community team identifies
existing ground water protection issues and then develops result-oriented activities (ROAs) to
address these issues effectively through time. ROAs are unique to each community, but must
have measurable outcomes. The Groundwater Foundation information and support services are
organized around these ROAs. Adoption and substantive progress toward implementation of
ROAs will mean Groundwater Guardian designation for the community. Annually, prospective
and existing Groundwater Guardian communities will meet for the purpose of Groundwater
Guardian designation, public accolades, and networking.

Nineteen ninety-four served as a test year for the program. From a rural unincorporated
community in North Carolina to an Indian tribe in Oregon, from a drainage basin in California to
a township in Ontario, eight communities were selected to test the Groundwater Guardian
process. In keeping with the program's broad definition of community, they provided an effective
test for the program. The communities' populations varied from 3,000 to 150,000. The combined
population of the eight communities was just under 750,000.

The communities each formed a team, which brought a total of 91 persons into very direct
contact with the program and its community ground water protection objectives. Together, these
teams adopted and implemented 36 ROAs that directly affected about 100,000 persons in the
participating communities. All test-year communities were designated as Groundwater
Guardians in November 1994.

Groundwater Guardian requires communities to enter and successfully complete the program
each year to maintain Groundwater Guardian designation. Fifty-five communities, including the
eight 1994 communities, entered for 1995. They came from 27 states and one Canadian

province. They represented population sizes from 2,000 to 800,000. They included
unincorporated areas, villages, large cities, townships, counties, Indian reservations, watersheds,
and metropolitan regions. The combined membership of the Groundwater Guardian teams for
these communities was 428. Their annual reports with ROAs were to be submitted by September
1995. Successful communities were designated 1995 Groundwater Guardians in Chicago on
November 19ñ21, 1995.

      Donald Lemmen and Robert Vance
Geoscience and Global Change in the Canadian Prairies: The Palliser Triangle IRMA
The Palliser Triangle IRMA (Integrated Research and Monitoring Area) is an interdisciplinary
research project coordinated by the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) that is aimed at
improving our understanding of how global change affects water resources and landscape
processes in the southern reaches of the prairie provinces. This region, known as the Palliser
Triangle (SW Manitoba to SE Alberta), accounts for more than half of Canada's agricultural
production, despite severe periodic droughts that exert significant economic and social impacts.
In some areas, the future of sustainable agricultural activity is threatened by impending global
change, given general circulation model (GCM) predictions that much of this region will become
warmer and drier as atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations increase. Adequate preparation
for global change requires a proactive land use management plan developed with an improved
understanding of landscape and vegetation responses to prehistoric climatic changes that rival
GCM predictions of 21st century conditions.

Paleoenvironmental research brings two vital insights to the development of a sustainable
economic activity plan. First, it is the only means of outlining the range of variability inherent to
the "natural" climate system. This provides a realistic context within which the significance of
historic trends may be evaluated. Second, paleoenvironmental reconstructions outline the nature
of landscape responses (including hydrology, geomorphology, and ecology) associated with a
full range of possible climatic conditions, including those predicted by GCMs. The importance
of this perspective cannot be overemphasized, because no historic analogues exist for the
predicted climatic impacts of the greenhouse effect.

To enhance understanding of landscape processes and past environmental change in semiarid
landscapes, and to prepare for geologic hazards associated with future global changes, such as
soil erosion, slope stability, and stream siltation.

How It Works
The project is an interdisciplinary, cooperative research initiative involving earth scientists from
government institutions and universities across Canada. There are three main components to the

1. Records of past climatic and hydrologic changes. Using the fossil record preserved in the
abundant prairie potholes and lakes, researchers are reconstructing changes in climate,
hydrology, and water quality that have occurred over the past 10,000 years.
2. Relationships between climate and landscape processes. By studying deposits related to wind,
water, and slope erosion, geologists are correlating periods of past landscape instability with
changes in climate. This work is supplemented by detailed monitoring of modern landscape
3. Analysis of landscape sensitivity. The Palliser Triangle landscape is diverse, and will not
display homogenous responses to climatic change. Computer (GIS) analysis of a wide variety of
data, including human activity, will identify areas most severely affected by climatic change, as
well as landscapes that will be minimally affected.

These three components lead to a common goal: mapping landscape responses to climatic
variability. Since the geologic record documents landscape response to a wide range of past
climatic regimes, one of the strengths of this project is that it provides information on the
impacts associated with a variety of global change scenarios. The maps produced will allow
regional land use and management policies to be founded on a strong scientific footing.

Planned Outputs and Principal Clients
1. Regional-scale planning tools for land use management and policy development: including (i)
maps of landscape sensitivity, (ii) maps of landscape responses to various climate change
scenarios, and (iii) Geographic Information System (GIS) data base and derived maps on
CD-ROM. These products are largely directed toward government planners such as the Prairie
Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA), Parks Canada, provincial agencies, and local
management districts.
2. Contributions to international initiatives on climate change research: paleoenvironmental data
bases will become part of World Data Centre-A for Paleoclimatology Data Sets (NOAA),
addressing key components of Stream 1 of PAGES (Past Global Changes) of the International
Geosphere Biosphere Programme. The data will initially be used to test GCMs, thereby reducing
the uncertainties associated with long-term predictions of climatic change.

      The project was established with a regional workshop held in November 1991. Presently,
       it involves more than 15 government and university researchers and 10 graduate students.
      The project contribution series stands at 23 refereed scientific papers. Progress reports
       have been presented at more than 20 regional, national, and international conferences.
      Field work began in 1992 and will continue through FY 1995ñ96. Major initiatives
       include the collection of sedimentary records from 12 lakes, ongoing geomorphic studies
       across the Palliser Triangle, and an extensive monitoring program in the Great Sand

      A computer (GIS) data base, comprising topographic, geologic, soils, climate, and land
       use data, has been compiled for most of the core region (brown soil zone), and
       preliminary analysis of landscape sensitivity is being conducted.

      Steve Masters
A Water Conservation Program for Lincoln, Nebraska
Introducing landscape alternatives to the traditional water-intensive plantings, developing an
information base relating to water that is specific to Lincoln, and community education are the
primary activities of the Mayor's Water Conservation Task Force. Water conservation is
important to the city of Lincoln even with the near-completion of $85 million in system
improvements. The goal is to maximize the service life of facilities by containing water demand.
Citizens from varied specialties have participated on the task force over the years, including
representatives from construction and industry, educators, neighborhood association
representatives, horticulturists, realtors, home builders, and personnel from the University of

Information is available about the following task force projects:
      Children's billboard contest
      Drought-tolerant plant list for Lincoln
      Lawn and garden center point-of-origin plant kit
      Various brochures on water conservation landscape practices
      Landscape awards
      Instructive video tape
      Use of Horace the Hippo, mascot

Lincoln's program emphasizes an alliance with landscape services, neighborhoods, home
builders, real estate companies, the University of Nebraska, and the public schools.

      Bruce Maxwell, Jerry Johnson, Cliff Montagne, Keith Jamtgaard, Julie Stoughton, and
       David Knox
Community Sustainability through Ecosystem Management and Planning
Small rural communities are the local economic and social centers of life in the Rocky Mountain
West. They traditionally rely on extractive and land resource-based industries such as farming,
ranching, timber harvesting, oil exploration, and mining, which are declining. The rural West is
enduring significant human stress as traditional economies decline and are replaced by service,
tourist, and recreational economies and as social and environmental attitudes shift in the region.
The changing social structure and economy threatens the nature of local society and traditional
culture, especially in agricultural communities. Some describe the changes and resulting stress as
a loss of "community" or "sense of place."

This project is documenting relationships between rural land use and the ecological and
socioeconomic components of rural communities. These relationships will influence the ability
of rural agricultural communities to maintain an agricultural system that will be compatible with
ongoing community change.

The project team uses a systems methodology to interact with the community of Three Forks,
Montana. In a series of iterations, the team queries the community about values of place and
current economic and social concerns. This information is used to construct a survey to measure
and characterize the social and economic makeup of the community. A geographic information
system is used to document changes in rural land use within the community's land base. The
ecological effects of land use changes are determined through an ecological monitoring
procedure. The community survey demographic information and land use changes are recorded
on a common geographic information system base so that relationships between land use and
ecological, social, and economic qualities can be determined.

The sources of change and stress for rural communities can be categorized as immigration to
rural communities; growth of the "service sector"; shifts in income and employment patterns of
the traditional agricultural economy; and the recognition that the ecological dimension of the
region provides a long-term constraint on residents' lifestyles, economies, and communities.
These changes are often framed in the context of "old-timers" and the values they hold vs.
"newcomers" and their values, resulting in two divergent visions of community development
over time. "Old-timers" may reflect a desire to remain a traditional agricultural small town while
"newcomers" may not be cognizant of the historical social and economic conditions and may not
recognize the full effect of the changes they are a part of.

The community survey was administered to residents of the Three Forks/Willow Creek School
District, including town and near-town residents and ranchers/farmers. Findings show high levels
of community satisfaction and attachment, at a time when many communities experiencing
comparable growth and change are experiencing erosion of community satisfaction indicators.
People enjoy the local schools and their life in the community. Positive satisfaction ratings
suggest that the community can work together on issues of mutual concern because people are
happy with where they live and who their neighbors are. There are some misconceptions about
what drives the local economy. Although farming and ranching are seen as important to the local
economy, they are declining and not adding jobs to the area. Bozeman (thirty miles east) is not
seen as an important component, but the number of persons that work and shop in Bozeman is
significant (approximately 30% of the sample). About one-half of those surveyed shop primarily
in Bozeman. This has economic development considerations - any retail shop recruited to Three
Forks may have to compete with Bozeman shops. There is a high degree of efficacy for private
property rights but also a high demand for the preservation of land in agricultural production.
These conflicting views can be solved with tools such as easements, impact fees, or viewshed
zoning, but the emphasis placed on property rights may lead to market value-based solutions.
There are many newcomers from elsewhere in Montana, not from out of state.

A socioeconomic profile of the Three Forks community was completed using trend analysis
methodology presented in Measuring Change in Rural Communities: A Workbook for
Determining Demographic Economic and Fiscal Trends (R. Rasker, J. Johnson, and V. York;
published by The Wilderness Society, Washington, D.C., 1994). Demographic information was
obtained using the Decennial Census for 1980 and 1990, Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department
of Commerce. Statistics were selected (1) to give a quick overview, (2) to stimulate discussion,
and (3) to help guide the direction of future research. Three Forks appears to be becoming an
older community, as are Gallatin County and the state of Montana. The community has a labor
force of 521 people, with 10.4% unemployed. The median household income is $3,461 lower
than for Gallatin County, and there is a lower proportion of residents with bachelors degrees than
in other areas of the county and state. Three Forks has a higher proportion of skilled and
nonskilled labor jobs than both the state and the county and a lower percentage of white-collar
jobs. The community is a "working" community based on the economy of skilled labor jobs, not
jobs that require education after high school.

This project is developing methods to correlate land use change with socioeconomic factors and
ecosystems measures. Records of land use change over time have been compiled on a geographic
information system. Locations where land use has changed will be compared to similar areas of
no change by comparing ecosystem measures associated with soil quality, response to
disturbance, and energy flow. Then the relationships between ecosystem health and land use
change can be quantified so the team can document linkages between land use, ecosystem health,
and socioeconomic factors important to community sustainability. This will bring together on a
spatial basis results from the survey, the workbook analysis, and field determinations of
ecosystem quality and health correlated with historical changes in land use. In community
meetings there is considerable interest in using the GIS system for community planning because
of its ability to produce predictive maps showing how the community could appear in the future.

      Doug McKell
The Saskatchewan Soil Enhancement Project
Soil degradation on the Great Plains has been identified as one of the most serious threats to
sustainable agricultural production. Excessive tillage of these soils has proved to be a significant
factor in the soil degradation process. The direct seeding of annual and perennial crops greatly
reduces farmers' reliance on tillage, which consequently reduces impacts on the environment and
wildlife as well as reducing the annual cash costs of producing grain and food crops. The
Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association (SSCA) has, since 1990, been the main source of
soil conservation information for Saskatchewan farmers. A large part of the SSCA's program has
been to work with innovative farmers in promoting and encouraging the adoption of successful
direct seeding techniques. Our programs have been very successful, with attendance at our
annual field days and conferences numbering up to 4,000 farmers. In 1994, with the help of the
SSCA, Saskatchewan farmers seeded more than 4.6 million acres of wheat, peas, canola, lentils,
canary seed, and other crops with the single-pass, low-disturbance seeding system. This is up
from 2.4 million acres in 1990. The demand for direct seeding machinery on the prairies has

spawned a multi-million-dollar farm implement industry that supplies state-of-the-art seeding
technology across North America and abroad. Under the Saskatchewan Soil Enhancement
Project, the SSCA has joined with Monsanto Canada Inc., TransAlta Utilities Corp., the
Canada-Saskatchewan Green Plan, and the Saskatchewan Department of Agriculture and Food to
further develop our direct seeding extension program. A key goal in the project is to establish the
acceptance of carbon capture through soil reclamation and the building of carbon sinks in an
effort to create and confirm a viable carbon offset for the power generation industry.

In developing our extension programs, we have found that by promoting the systems approach to
soil conservation, we can achieve a higher adoption of soil conservation techniques. In this way
we are unique compared to other extension organizations. Where other soil conservation groups
specialize in such areas as weed control, residue management, or seeding, we provide
information on the total system. Direct seeding is a complex procedure involving many facets of
the farm operation, which we have addressed in designing our extension program. This
partnership ushers in a new era where government, industry, and grassroots producer
organizations collaborate to develop programs with multiple benefits. The SSCA's continued
extension efforts to farmers through local workshops and tours, farm visitations, newsletters,
manuals, provincial and local field days, and trade shows will encourage farmer adoption of
direct seeding. Our goal is to increase the direct seeded acreage in Saskatchewan to 10 m by

Through direct seeding, positive changes in soil quality and profile have already been
acknowledged by both farmers and soil scientists. Benefits to farmers include reduced operating
costs, increased productivity, and reduced soil degradation. The agricultural industry benefits
because there is a new market for soil conservation-related products. The power generation
industry will benefit because these programs will help them meet Canadaís CO2 emission goals
for the year 2000. Consumers benefit through a cleaner environment and the assurance of a more
stable source of food. And wildlife will benefit as well through enhanced habitat. These changes
will ensure the sustainability of our soil resource and the economic viability of prairie farmers.

      Debbie Nielsen and Martin Lelliot
Shand Greenhouse: Part of SaskPower's Commitment to the Environment
No longer limited to environmental groups, concern over preservation of the environment has
entered the conscience of mainstream society. The public has become more aware and intolerant
of any person, group, or industry that conducts its business without due regard for the
environment. Electrical utilities such as SaskPower are not excluded from this criticism.

In Saskatchewan, the primary source of fuel for electrical generation is coal. Although an
abundant and inexpensive source of generating power, coal is a fossil fuel that when burned
releases harmful emissions such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide, and
particulate into the atmosphere. If coal is to remain an important fuel for electrical generation in
Saskatchewan, the problems associated with these emissions need to be addressed.

SaskPower has undertaken that challenge through the installation of technology to reduce the
levels of dangerous emissions and the construction of a greenhouse at the award-winning Shand
Power Station in Estevan.

Shand Greenhouse, established in 1991, demonstrates SaskPower's commitment to the
environment by using by-products of electrical generation. Waste heat from the power station is
used to help grow trees and shrubs native to the province. Seedlings grown through this program
are distributed free of charge to nonprofit groups, corporations, and communities for wildlife
habitat, reclamation, and conservation projects. As these seedlings grow, they create a carbon
sink and help to mitigate some of the carbon dioxide released as a result of coal-fired electrical

Research is another component of the greenhouse's operations. Programs experimenting with the
germination, production, and outplanting success of a variety of species are currently underway
at the greenhouse, which is one of only a few greenhouses in Canada that produce native trees
and shrubs in a mass containerized greenhouse system. Joint ventures with industry and
government agencies include strip mine reclamation efforts and wildlife habitat development.

Shand Greenhouse is also working to educate customers and employees about environmental
issues such as the greenhouse effect and abatement of carbon dioxide through the planting of
seedlings. The facility is open year-round, holding open houses for the public and field days for
children as well as sending personnel to schools throughout the province.

Positive results from the greenhouse's programs are already being seen. Approximately 600,000
seedlings have been distributed since its inception, about half of which have been planted locally.
The greenhouse has been promoted as a tourist destination in the Estevan area. Locally, the
greenhouse provides casual employment opportunities to the mentally challenged.

Future plans for Shand Greenhouse include research in native plant propagation and joint
ventures with industry in establishing reclaimed areas. An ongoing, aggressive information
program will continue to teach the environmental importance of plants in offsetting carbon
dioxide emissions. This educational aspect of the greenhouse is of key importance to SaskPower
both in showing the corporation's commitment to the environment and in setting an example for
others to follow.

      David Nuland, Jim Schild, and Tony Merrigan
Examining Sustainable Options in Western Nebraska: On-Farm Research Rediscovered

The need to generate and then transfer sound knowledge about dry bean production is constantly
stimulated by the development of new varieties and new challenges to current practices. The big
question is, "Will these varieties and/or practices, if used, return more than they will cost?"

More producers are asking for more information about specific production challenges that
confront them on their farms. It follows that producers must claim greater partnership in
generating the knowledge they require.

In research for production agriculture, generating knowledge by performing one trial at one
location in a given year is slow and time-consuming. Our goal for participatory on-farm research
with dry beans is to conduct trials in one year at multiple locations so the inference drawn from
the research will embrace the entire production area. This has been accomplished by working
through the Nebraska Dry Bean Growers Association (NDBGA).

The Research and Extension Committee of the NDBGA sets the research agenda each year. The
NDBGA also provides the structure and limited financing to answer researchable questions while
facilitating resource input from public and private sectors of the industry as well as from the
producers. The producer also provides practical knowledge and experience with the land as well
as the human and physical resources to conduct the trial. More importantly, the producer assesses
the relevance of the results.

The NDBGA addressed the following eight questions as they set the research agenda for
participatory on-farm trials over the last seven years. A total of 142 on-farm trials were
established to address these questions. The year in which the question was addressed is in
      Are there yield advantages to be gained through nitrogen management, as suggested by
       Colorado State University data? (1988ñ90)
      Should Great Northern breeding line 85ñ45 be released as a variety? (1989)
      How do the 1987 Pinto bean releases Bill Z and Othello and the Idaho Seed Beans 1983
       release Fiesta (which had not been marketed in Nebraska) perform in Nebraska? (1990)
      How does the 1990 Great Northern release Starlight and the 1983 Idaho release UI 425
       (which had not been marketed in Nebraska) perform in Nebraska? (1991)
      Can yields on production fields be increased by inner-row ripping, as suggested by
       Colorado State University data? (1991)
      Should the multiple disease tolerant Pinto breeding line 89ñ5 be released as a variety?
      How do the 1993 Pinto releases Arapahoe and Chase perform in Nebraska? (1993)
      Can yields on production fields be maintained by using improved inoculants to replace
       fertilizer nitrogen? (1994)

The outcome of the research that addressed each of these questions has been published in the
Bean Bag. The Bean Bag is a quarterly publication of the NDBGA that is distributed to every dry
bean producer in Nebraska.

Before on-farm trials, our research agenda was stuck at one location with variety trials only, and
results were shared at field day or through newsletters. Now, through participatory on-farm trials
located throughout the entire bean-producing area of Nebraska, the research is widely viewed
and shared. The research agenda is no longer solely owned; it is now owned by all who
participate, which is as it should be.

Working on dry bean production farms through participatory on-farm research is far greater than
any one person's agenda. It allows a more relevant and responsive transfer of knowledge than in
the past.

Participatory on-farm research works for the benefit of all segments of the dry bean industry.
This system provides an opportunity for all of the industry to participate in research and allows
all of the industry to claim ownership of the results.

      G. A. Peterson, D. G. Westfall, and L. Ahuja
Sustainable Dryland Agroecosystems for the Great Plains
Agricultural sustainability in the Great Plains is closely linked with the area's unpredictable
climate conditions. Summer fallow, coupled with wheat production, is the primary method of
compensating for climatic uncertainty in the Great Plains. This practice has stabilized wheat
yields. Unfortunately, summer fallow has several negative impacts, three of which threaten the
economic and environmental sustainability of cultivated agriculture in the Great Plains. The first
is severe soil erosion by both wind and water. Frequent tillage, necessary for weed control during
fallow, destroys residue cover and reduces soil aggregate size and stability, thus accelerating
erosion. The second negative is low precipitation use efficiency. Usually less than 25% of the
precipitation received during fallow is stored in the soil. Accelerated evaporation and runoff are
the water loss avenues. The third negative is loss in soil organic matter, with an associated loss in
soil fertility.

Our challenging problem was: How do we minimize the soil- and environment-degrading
practice of summer fallowing while ensuring economic stability? Our project, started in 1985,
addresses this question with a systems approach. Our objective was to identify cropping systems
that maximize precipitation use efficiency, improve environmental conditions, and provide
economic stability. The systems we are studying have four driving variables: (1) climate regime,
(2) soils, (3) management systems, and (4) time. We have three climate regimes, three soil
regimes in each climate, and five cropping systems across all soils and climates. Our sites are on
farmer-owned land and are not conducted with typical small plot techniques.

We have shown that intensifying cropping systems from conventional wheat-fallow to three- and
four-year systems, such as wheat-corn-fallow and wheat-corn-millet-fallow, has increased
annualized grain production by 72% in all climate regimes. This increase is a function of
increasing water use efficiency by 75% to 100%. No-till techniques have decreased soil stirring
and reduced evaporation by conserving crop residues on the soil surface. Soil organic matter
levels have increased, soil erosion potential has been reduced by 90%, and net income has
increased by 25% to 40%, compared to conventional wheat-fallow farming.

Producer interest in the field sites and the results has been remarkable. Adoption of the
intensified cropping systems is evidenced by a fourfold increase in dryland corn acreage in
northeastern Colorado in the last five years: from 20,000 acres (1970ñ88) to 92,000 acres (1994).
Last winter, farmers participated in meetings in which they presented their personal experiences
with intensified dryland cropping systems. They reported profit increases similar to or higher
than those calculated from our research information. Concomitant with adoption of the intensive
systems is improved environmental sustainability.

Our long-term goal is to develop a decision aid model for producers that would allow them to
make better decisions regarding cropping and tillage choices, and the probability of increasing
their economic return under their specific environment and management conditions.

      P. E. Rasmussen, B. Duff, and R. W. Smiley
Sustainability of Agriculture in Semiarid Cereal Regions of the Pacific Northwest United
The biological and economic sustainability of major cereal-based cropping systems in the Pacific
Northwest was assessed using long-term experiments at Pendleton, Oregon. Long-term
experiments originated in 1931 and continue today. The climate is semiarid (17 inches annual
rainfall, with 70% occurring in the winter season), the topography is steeply sloping, and soils
are moderately deep, medium-textured, generally fertile, and very susceptible to wind and water
erosion. Farming systems are essentially crop-based, with very little livestock enterprise. Farms
are large and fields are rarely fenced.

Cereal systems evaluated included winter wheat/fallow and winter wheat/spring pea. Wheat
varieties, cultural practices, and nitrogen fertilizer inputs are modified periodically to keep
abreast of current technology. Tillage is conventional (moldboard plow), with both chemical and
mechanical weed control. Soil samples are taken about every 10 years to evaluate organic matter
content and quality.

Wheat yield has risen steadily during the past 60 years because of improvements in cereal
breeding, water conservation, weed and disease control, and plant nutrition. Improvements that
increased crop residue yield have been beneficial to biological sustainability, provided residues
were returned to the soil. Practices that leave little crop residue on the land have been detrimental

to biological sustainability, especially where fallowing is practiced. Economic sustainability has
generally been negative since the 1950s, primarily because of rapidly increasing costs coupled
with static wheat prices. Increases in yield have not been able to offset rapidly increasing
production costs. Wheat-based systems are presently profitable, but trends indicate a loss of
profitability by the year 2000. Even moderate levels of soil erosion are projected to decrease both
biological and economic sustainability.

Cereal yields are very sensitive to rainfall sufficiency, especially spring rainfall received during
advanced stages of cereal growth. Winter precipitation storage affects annual crop systems much
more than wheat/fallow rotation. Changes in yield due to shifts in precipitation proposed for
global climate change can be projected and their influence on cropping systems estimated.

Funding for this project was provided by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Oregon Wheat
Commission, Oregon State University, and USDA-ARS. It was conducted by cooperating state,
federal, and private industry scientists. The wheat/fallow study was one of six used by the
Rockefeller Foundation to evaluate the sustainability of agriculture in the world today through
the use of long-term experiments. Results have been presented to sustainable agriculture
meetings in England and the Pacific Northwest. Seminars were conducted throughout the tristate
area. Copies of the report were provided to wheat industry commissions, public interest groups,
and federal and state legislators serving on agricultural or natural resources committees. A copy
of the report was entered into the Congressional Record. Abbreviated versions were published in
several local newspapers and farm magazines.

      Bill Rietveld
Agroforestry: Blending Agriculture and Forestry Production and Conservation Practices
Agroforestry, the integration of agriculture and forestry production and conservation practices,
bridges production agriculture and natural resource conservation with environmental protection
and human needs. Agroforestry systems contribute substantially to generating the ecological and
economic diversity important for long-term sustainable development.

Practices include riparian buffer systems, stream bank bioengineering, alley cropping, living
terraces, windbreaks, tree/pasture systems, and tree/specialty crop systems. Benefits are
increased crop protection, alternative crops and diversified rural economies, improved water
quality, soil erosion and sediment control, filtering and biodegrading excess nutrients and
pesticides, reducing flooding damage, microclimate moderation, and diversified habitats for
wildlife and people.

The USDA Forest Service National Agroforestry Center provides leadership to develop,
integrate, and apply agroforestry technologies to attain productive, diverse, resilient, and
sustainable agroecosystems. Its role is to provide national leadership and direction, build
partnerships and cooperation, leverage resources, and catalyze innovation and synergy to

develop and apply agroforestry. The Center acts as a clearinghouse to provide a variety of
informational services, and works with a national network of cooperators to support agroforestry
development and applications projects nationwide.

      Paul Todhunter
Impact of Conservation Practices on Wind Erosion in the Red River Valley of North Dakota:
The natural landscape of the United States Great Plains has been nearly completely transformed
by human action over the past 150 years (Riebsame, 1990) and is frequently perceived as a
region in extreme ecological stress. Although the transformation of the Plains grassland
ecosystem is undeniable, specific examples of environmental stress need to be scientifically
documented on a case-by-case basis. Wind erosion, for example, is one of the most ubiquitous
environmental problems throughout the region. Popular essays on the sustainability of the Great
Plains region boldly state that "soil erosion is approaching dust bowl rates," and that "they
[Plains farmers] never created a truly stable agriculture or found reliable conservation devices"
(Popper and Popper, 1987). In this study, long-term trends in dust production were examined for
one subregion of the Great Plains over the period 1948ñ91 and related to concurrent trends in
land use, climate data, and soil conservation practices.

The Red River Valley of North Dakota is a nearly level remnant glacial lake plain formed by
glacial Lake Agassiz and composed of fine and loamy sediments (Cihacek et al., 1993). Previous
studies have identified it as one of the highest potential dust production regions in the United
States (Gillette and Hanson, 1989) and the area most prone to blowing dust in North Dakota
(Hagen and Woodruff, 1973). Separate time series of selected agricultural statistics, climatic
parameters, and present weather observations were assembled for Fargo, North Dakota, for

The only long-term, consistent, and reliable data available for studying historical wind erosion
are the hourly observations of dust-related weather phenomenon reported by trained
meteorologists and recorded on the Surface Airways Hourly data tape (TD-3280). These include
the categories of dust, blowing dust, and dust storms. The time series of hourly totals of these
three weather phenomena at the Fargo, North Dakota, Weather Service Office station are shown
in Figure 1. A Spearman correlation test of the frequency of hourly dust-related weather
observations versus year resulted in a correlation coefficient of -0.314, which was significant at
the 0.05 confidence level.

Historical land use patterns for Cass County, North Dakota, and temperature and precipitation
data for climate division 6 (east central North Dakota) were examined to determine whether the
observed decrease in the frequency of dust-related weather observations could be explained on
the basis of land use changes or climate history. Data extracted from the North Dakota
Agricultural Statistics for Cass County over the period 1955-91 revealed a trend toward
increased intensity of land use. Pearson correlation tests versus year indicate an increase in total

acres planted (r = 0.492) and row crop (r = 0.861) acreage over time, and a decrease in all hay (r
= -0.966), small grain (r = -0.433), and summer fallow (-0.407) acreage over time. All of the
correlation coefficients were significant at the 0.01 level, except for the summer fallow acreage
trend, which was significant at the 0.05 level. Row crops (soybeans, sunflowers, grain corn, dry
edible beans, sugar beets, and potatoes) accounted for 14% of total cropland in 1955, and now
account for 47% of total cropland. Consequently, land use patterns would appear to indicate
increased pressure on land, which might be expected to increase wind erosion potential, and
cannot be used to explain the decreased frequency of dust-related weather phenomena.

Hydroclimatic trends over the study period indicate a trend toward increasing soil dryness, with
regional annual precipitation totals remaining stable and regional average annual air temperature
increasing at a rate of 2.3C per century (P = 0.10). The secular climate record, therefore,
indicates a trend toward increasing regional soil dryness, which would be physically inconsistent
with the dust observation records (Todhunter, 1995).

The reduction in the frequency of windblown weather events is best explained by the
development and adoption of conservation practices in the post-Dust Bowl era. The once nearly
treeless Red River Valley landscape now possesses one of the highest concentrations of
shelterbelts in the world. Farm technology improvements, such as improved herbicides to control
troublesome weeds, chisel plows, and air seeders, have enabled the widespread practice of
conservation tillage. Improved farm management practices focusing on crop residue
management have resulted in increased spring soil moisture content, higher soil organic matter
content, improved soil structure, and increased aerodynamic roughness. Although statewide
enrollment in the Soil Bank and Conservation Reserve Programs are among the highest in the
nation, the very low participation of Cass County farm operators in these programs would appear
to be inadequate to explain the reduced wind erosion hazard.

Improved farm technology and farm management practices, albeit at the expense of extensive
use of agricultural chemicals, provides the best explanation for the reduced wind erosion threat
in the Red River Valley of the north. This conclusion is also consistent with studies conducted on
the high plains of Texas (Ervin and Lee, 1994). Consideration of modern conservation practices
and soil management technologies appears to be crucial in the examination of the potential
impact of global climate change on wind erosion rates in the Great Plains.

Cihacek, L. J.; M. D. Sweeney; and E. J. Deibert. 1993. Characterization of wind erosion
sediments in the Red River Valley of North Dakota. Journal of Environmental Quality
Ervin, R. T.; and J. A. Lee. 1994. Impact of conservation practices on airborne dust in the
southern High Plains of Texas. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 49(5):430-37.

Gillette, D. A.; and K. J. Hanson. 1989. Spatial and temporal variability of dust production
caused by wind erosion in the United States. Journal of Geophysical Research
Hagen, L. J.; and N. P. Woodruff. 1973. Air pollution from dust storms in the Great Plains.
Atmospheric Environment 7:323-32.
Popper, D. E.; and F. J. Popper. 1987. The Great Plains: From dust to dust, a daring proposal for
dealing with an inevitable disaster. Planning 53:12-18.
Riebsame, W. E. 1990. The United States Great Plains. In B. L. Turner, ed. The Earth as
Transformed by Human Action: Global and Regional Changes in the Biosphere over the Past
300 Years. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Todhunter, P. E. 1995. Hydroclimatic perspectives of waterfowl production in the North Dakota
prairie pothole region. Great Plains Research, in press.

      Elaine Wheaton, Ken Jones, and V. Wittrock
Developing Climatic Adaptation Programs for Canadian Prairies Sustainability
Climate is very closely linked with the environment, society, and the economy of the Canadian
prairies. Year-to-year variations and longer-term climatic changes are associated with variations
in many sectors, both economic and environmental. Climatic risks through events such as
droughts result in crop yield losses, soil erosion, water supply problems, forest fire increases, and
habitat reduction. Overabundance of precipitation can also have both negative effects and
benefits, depending on amounts and timing. Risks are emphasized because they are often more
difficult to plan for and to cope with than benefits.

The purpose of this abstract is to provide the background and initial directions for climatic
programs for sustainable development in the Canadian prairies. The goal is to harmonize human
activities with the prairie climate so that climatic risks to sustainability are minimized and
climatic benefits are maximized. In other words, the goal is climatic adaptation. Sustainability
assessment and planning must consider the nature, impacts of, and adaptation to climate. A plan
without this would not ensure sustainability. Strategies to ensure sustainability differ from one
climate to another. For example, farm management that would be sustainable under one climate
type may result in accelerated wind erosion in another climate.

The study area is the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, termed the
prairie provinces or prairies. This area is considered as a focus of effort in the climatic impact
and adaptation assessment field for several reasons:
      The importance of the agriculture to this area, to Canada, and to the world (Williams et
       al., 1988). Prairie agriculture is strongly linked with weather and climate.
      The constraint of soil limitations on northward shifts of agriculture and natural vegetation
       as climatic zones shift (Williams et al., 1988). This constraint is especially apparent for
       Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

      The area's sensitivity and vulnerability to drought and other climatic events known to
       cause severe environmental, economic, and social effects (for example, the 1988 drought
       impacts documented in Wheaton and Arthur [1989] and Wheaton et al. [1992]).
      Many climatic hazards are common in this area, including drought, dust storms, floods,
       hail storms, wind storms, tornadoes, frost, blizzards, thunderstorms, icing storms, and hot
       and cold spells.
      High latitude midcontinental regions, such as the prairies, are expected to experience the
       largest climatic changes under continued future global warming (IPCC, 1990).
      The greatest warming trend in Canada in the past century has occurred in a broad corridor
       from the prairie provinces northward into the Mackenzie District (Gullet and Skinner,

Several prairie climatic change impact assessment projects have been completed and are listed in
the bibliography by Wheaton (1993). This paper draws on examples of Environment Canada and
Saskatchewan Research Council work. The most recent work focused on biodiversity and
atmospheric change and on integrated impact assessments. Earlier work examined the impacts of
climatic variations on agriculture, based on a case study of Saskatchewan (Williams et al., 1988).
It was part of a large international study regarding assessments in cool temperate and cold
regions of the world. It established some of the methodologies to estimate climatic change
impacts, and the work provided some of the earliest warnings of such impacts related to global

Very few climatic change assessment projects have included adaptation components, except
those by Williams et al. (1988), for example. Therefore, it appears that climatic adaptation
assessments for the prairies are very limited and scarce. This is an important knowledge gap. It
seems that effort has been concentrated on improving agricultural production and yields, often at
the expense of protection through improved adaptation to climatic challenges.

Methods used for climatic impact and adaptation assessment are presented. These include the use
of models and sets of models, expert judgment, and qualitative frameworks such as matrices,
especially for integrated assessments.

Results of climatic change impact assessments are summarized. They indicate the sensitivity and
interrelationships of climate, the environment, and the economy. Many of these are qualitative
results only, and quantitative sensitivities of linkages are not fully known in many instances. This
leaves a significant gap for future work. Climatic events such as droughts, frosts, wind storms,
and floods are major challenges to sustainability in the prairie provinces. Improved adaptation
strategies are required so that prairie sustainability is not further jeopardized under future
climatic variation and change. We conclude that if society has and effectively uses information
about the dynamic nature of climate and its interactions, we will be able to decrease our
vulnerability and increase benefits from changing climates. This is our vision for this aspect of a
sustainable future.

Recommendations include the development of a climate mitigation and adaptation network,
working groups, and climate programs. These mechanisms are clearly needed to address the
question of prairie sustainability faced with an uncertain climate. The knowledge gaps regarding
climatic impacts, interactions, and adaptations are numerous and have serious implications.
Goals for a sustainable future, as confronted by climatic variations, must be developed. Then a
portfolio of adaptive strategies must be developed and tested in order to achieve these goals.

Gullett, D. W.; and W. R. Skinner. 1992. The State of Canada's Climate: Temperature Change in
Canada 1895-1991. Environment Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, pp. 1-16.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 1990. Potential Impacts of Climate Change.
Prepared by IPCC Working Group II. Government Publishing Service, Canberra, Australia.
Parry, M. L.; T. R. Carter; and N. T. Konijn (eds.). 1988. The Impact of Climatic Variations on
Agriculture, Vol. 1: Assessment in Cool Temperate and Cold Regions. Kluwer Academic
Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
Wheaton, E. E.; L. M. Arthur; B. Chorney; S. Shewchuk; J. Thorpe; J. Whiting; and V. Wittrock.
1992. The Prairie Drought of 1988. Climatological Bulletin 26(3):188-205. Saskatchewan
Research Council (SRC) Publication No. E-2330-4-E-90. SRC, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Wheaton, E. E.; and L. M. Arthur (eds.). 1989. Environmental and Economic Impacts of the
1988 DroughtóWith Emphasis on Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Volume 1. Prepared for the 1988
Drought Steering Committee. Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) Publication No.
E-2330-4-E-89. SRC, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Wheaton, E. E. 1993. Impacts of a Variable and Changing Climate on the Canadian Prairie
Provinces: A Preliminary Integration and Annotated Bibliography. Prepared for the Canadian
Climate Centre, Environment Canada. Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) Publication No.
Williams, G. D. V.; R. A. Fautley; K. H. Jones; R. B. Stewart; and E. E. Wheaton. 1988.
Estimating effects of climatic change on agriculture in Saskatchewan, Canada. In M. L. Parry, T.
R. Carter, and N. T. Konijn (eds.). The Impact of Climatic Variations on Agriculture, Vol. 1:
Assessment in Cool Temperate and Cold Regions; pp. 219-379. Kluwer Academic Publishers,
Dordrecht, The Netherlands.

      Anthony Yeboah
Soil and Water Conservation Practices of Farmers in Central Mali
This research was conducted to identify farmers' objectives for crop and livestock production,
principal constraints to these activities, and farmers' strategies for dealing with these constraints.
Available solutions from on-farm trials (and the level of adoption of each technique) are
identified and discussed. A suitable (more effective) sequential mode of adoption of these

solutions, relative to other techniques available to farmers, is recommended, based on farmer
type and agroecological zone.

The study employed on-farm farmer-managed experimentation and a monitoring process
involving 300 farmers in the research area. The study found that water and wind erosion are
serious problems in the research area, resulting in low soil moisture, soil degradation, and poor
soil fertility. These are the major constraints to sustainable crop and livestock production. In
addition, there is increased pressure on cultivable land due to accelerated population growth
leading to shorter fallowing periods. This eventually leads to desertification. Principal crops are
cereals; legumes such as peanuts and cowpeas are important secondary crops. Livestock consist
mainly of cattle and small ruminants such as goats and sheep. The principal farmer objective for
crop production is to maintain food self-sufficiency, whereas livestock production is used as a
cash revenue source (small ruminants) and a store of wealth (cattle and other large ruminants).

Soil and water conservation techniques available to farmers include tree planting, construction of
small dams and dikes, rock bunds, tied ridges, "live fences," animal traction, and mulching.
Adoption of a technique and the resulting benefits vary widely between agroecological zones and
farmer objectives. The most widely used practice is animal traction for land preparation (used by
more than 79% of the farmers), followed by "live fences," which is practiced by about 30% of
the farmers. Tree planting, mulching, tied ridges, and rock bunds are used by 15%, 10%, 8%, and
5% of the farmers, respectively. Mechanical traction is rarely used; about 5% of the farmers who
use this method construct "half moons" to control surface runoff and encourage vegetative
regrowth. Crop intensification (sorghum-cowpea association) is another technique for protecting
top soils from erosion. There is very little crop-livestock integration. A technique of improved
livestock corralling is designed to encourage this integration.

Benefits of these techniques are multiple and accrue over the long run. The use of tree planting
as a conservation technique depends largely on the species' effectiveness in acting as windbreaks
and erosion controls.

In most parts of the research area, farmers hoping to increase crop and livestock productivity
would find it more useful to adopt soil and water conservation techniques before considering
crop varietal selection, chemical fertilizers, and other crop intensification practices. The principal
constraints to the adoption of these techniques include the lack of construction materials such as
rocks and also labor for transporting the materials. There is never sufficient water for planted
trees, especially during the dry season. Finally, farmer practices are highly influenced by cattle
ownership and the production of a cash crop, specifically cotton.

Appendix A

Survey Questions

The following survey was created by the International Institute for Sustainable Development
(IISD) in conjunction with the symposium. For a summary of the responses received from this
survey, see: Defining Sustainability Concerns and Issues for the North American Great Plains:
Challenges and Opportunities.

Your Opinion About the Concerns of the Great Plains

1. Which best describes your perception of the current, overall condition of small rural
                           Good           Mildly Stressed         Stressed             Critical
 In the Great               4                    3                    2                   1
 In your                     4                   3                   2                    1

2. Which best describes your perception of the current, overall condition of agricultural
                           Good           Mildly Stressed         Stressed             Critical
 In the Great               4                    3                    2                   1
 In your                     4                   3                   2                    1

3. Which best describes your perception of the current, overall condition of water
                           Good           Mildly Stressed         Stressed             Critical
 In the Great               4                    3                    2                   1
 In your                     4                   3                   2                    1

4. Which best describes your perception of the current, overall condition of biodiversity:
                           Good           Mildly Stressed         Stressed             Critical

 In the Great                  4                    3                    2                     1
 In your                       4                    3                    2                     1

5. Please indicate any other concerns about the sustainability of the Great Plains you may
have in the space provided below.
In the Table provided below, please indicate the significance of each stressor on each of the
Concerns of the Great Plains. Please include concerns you indicated in the first section of the
survey. Rate the significance on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest. Please feel free to add
other stressors you deem important.
                                         Stressors on the Sustainability of Great Plains
     Concerns of      Economic         Social     Environmenta Government
          the         Conditions     Conditions     l Changes       Policies
     Great Plains
     Small Rural
    Preservation of

Please either fax it to the attention of Allen Tyrchniewicz at (204) 958-7710 or send to the
following address:
Allen Tyrchniewicz
International Institute for Sustainable Development
161 Portage Avenue East
Winnipeg, MB R3B 0Y4

Appendix B

Symposium Program

Monday, May 8
8:00-8:30 a.m. Session 1-Welcome and Introductions
      Donald A. Wilhite, Director, International Drought Information Center, University of
      Governor Ben Nelson, Nebraska
8:30-9:10 a.m. Sustaining the Great Plains: A Federal Policy Perspective
      Senator Bob Kerrey, Nebraska

9:10-9:45 a.m. Keynote Speaker: An Overview of Canadian Initiatives in Sustainable
Development (Moderator: Donald Wilhite)
      Robert W. Slater, Assistant Deputy Minister, Environmental Conservation Service,

9:45-10:15 a.m. Refreshment Break

10:15-12:15 p.m. Session 2-Region at Risk? (Moderator: William E. Easterling, Director, Great
Plains Regional Center for Global Environmental Change, University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
Economic and Social Stressors
      Marvin Duncan, Chair, Department of Agricultural Economics, North Dakota State
       University, Fargo, North Dakota
      Dennis U. Fisher, Department of Agricultural Economics, Texas A&M University,
       College Station, Texas
      Mark Drabenstott, Federal Reserve Bank, Kansas City, Missouri
Implications of Global Environmental Change
      Barry Smit, Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario (Chair,
       Canadian Climate Programís Socio-Economic Impacts Committee)
Policies for a Sustainable Future
      Harry Hill, Director-General, Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration, Agriculture
       and Agri-Food Canada, Regina, Saskatchewan
      Hartley Furtan, Deputy Minister, Agriculture and Food, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

12:15-12:45 p.m. Discussion and Summary of Papers

12:45-2:00 p.m. Luncheon Banquet and Keynote Speaker
An Overview of U.S. Initiatives in Sustainable Development
      Molly Olson, Executive Director, President's Council on Sustainable Development,
       Washington, D.C.

Session 3-Case Studies of Sustainable Development (Moderator: Brian O'Donnell, Director,
Prairie and Northern Region, Environment Canada, Edmonton)

2:00-2:45 p.m. A Case Study of Sustainable Land Use: The Delivery of the North American
Waterfowl Management Plan in Prairie Canada and Its Socio-Economic Impacts (Case
Study #1)
      Greg Riemer, Manager, Agricultural Services, Saskatchewan Wetland Conservation
       Corporation; and Julia Taylor and D. Burden, Department of Agricultural Economics,
       University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

2:45-3:15 p.m. Refreshment Break

3:15-4:00 p.m. Education and Research to Support Sustainable Development: A Regional
Mandate in the North Central United States (Case Study #2)
      Charles F. Francis, Center for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of

4:00-4:30 p.m. Wrap-up to Day 1 Presentations, Introduction of Evening and Day 2
      Brian O'Donnell and Donald Wilhite

6:00-9:00 p.m. Demonstration Showcase Session on Sustainable Development in the North
American Great Plains
A variety of individuals, organizations, and agencies will showcase their findings and ideas for
achieving sustainable development in the North American Great Plains.
Tuesday, May 9
Session 4-Case Studies of Sustainable Development (Moderator: Donald Wilhite)

8:30-9:15 a.m. Sustainable Groundwater Protection: Educating Communities for Local
Action (Case Study #3)
      Susan S. Seacrest, President, The Groundwater Foundation, Lincoln, Nebraska

9:15-10:00 a.m. Reverse Engineering the Sustainable Development Process: Adapting Eight
Decades of Experience to Enhance the Future (Case Study #4)
      Jim Webber, General Manager, Eastern Irrigation District, Brooks, Alberta

10:00-10:30 a.m. Refreshment Break

10:30-11:45 a.m. Defining Sustainability Concerns and Issues for the North American
Great Plains: Challenges and Opportunities (Moderator: Brian O'Donnell)
      Allen Tyrchniewicz, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg,
       Manitoba; and Steve Ragone, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia

11:45-12:00 noon Moving Toward a Sustainable Future: Charge to Focus Groups
      Donald Wilhite

12:00-1:30 p.m. Lunch

1:30-4:30 p.m. Focus Groups in Session
The goal of the focus group sessions is to recommend specific actions or policies that will
facilitate the development of a sustainable future for the region.

3:00-3:30 p.m. Refreshment Break

4:30-5:30 p.m. Focus Group Rapporteurs' Reports (Panel Moderator: Donald Wilhite)
Preliminary presentation of discussions and key issues identified

5:30-5:45 p.m. Day 2 Wrap-up and Lead-in to Day 3
    Brian O'Donnell and Donald Wilhite
Wednesday, May 10

8:00-12:00 noon Focus Groups in Session

10:00-10:30 a.m. Refreshment Break

12:00-1:30 p.m. Lunch

1:30-3:00 p.m. Focus Group Rapporteurs' Reports and Discussion (Panel Moderator: Brian

3:00-3:30 p.m. Refreshment Break

3:30-4:30 p.m. Symposium Synthesis: Recommendations for Regional Initiatives (Plan of
Action) (Panel Moderator: Charles F. Francis, Center for Sustainable Agricultural Systems,
University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
Rosina M. Bierbaum, Senior Policy Analyst, Environment Program, Office of Science and
Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, Washington, D.C.
George Pearson, Director, Strategic Planning, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa
Art Hanson, President and CEO, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg


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