Yahara Lakes Conferences

The Nelson Institute has convened several conferences, forums, workshops and meetings to work toward solutions to longstanding problems plaguing the Yahara Lakes. The first was a conference in May 2007, The Future of Yahara Lakes: Realizing the Vision, organized in partnership with the Yahara Lakes Association and held at American Family Insurance. The event brought stakeholders together for constructive dialogue, including lakeshore property owners and other lake users, farmers, city, county and state officials, business groups, environmentalists and interested citizens.

The second Yahara Lakes conference, A Clean Future for the Yahara Lakes: Solutions for Tomorrow, Starting Today, drew 450 people to the day-long event at Monona Terrace in October 2008.

In addition, an all-day workshop in January 2009 gathered more than 60 farmers to discuss manure management and water quality, and a series of six community forums that spring drew 900 people to continue to work on these issues. A subsequent eight-part forum series in spring 2010 presented new scientific findings and continued the dialogue toward solutions.

The Nelson Institute's Yahara Lakes events have helped educate lake users, urban property owners, farmers and others in the community about the problems of the Yahara lakes and opportunities to solve them. They have promoted dialogue among disparate interest groups and helped energize the search for solutions to the lakes' nutrient and sediment pollution issues. The institute's efforts have been cited by the Dane County Executive as an ideal example of the Wisconsin Idea and credited with helping to launch the Yahara CLEAN initiative, which is working to reduce nutrient runoff across the watershed.