Kriss Marion – Lafayette County

Kriss is a small-scale diversified certified organic farmer serving her first year on the Lafayette County Land Conservation Committee. She serves on the WI Land+Water Legislative Committee, as well as Economic Development, IT, Planning and Zoning, SWCAP, Southwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and Lafayette County Development Corporation Boards. (Woah).

What previous experiences/education prepared you for your position on the Conservation Committee?

I am a small-scale diversified certified organic farmer, so I had limited experience with conservation practices, federal programs and soil health philosophy on my own property. I practice managed grazing and use cover crops. But I work with a lot of other kinds of farmers in my role as a county president of a Farmers Union chapter. I also am a founder of the Soils Sisters Tour of farms which feature women farmers in sustainable agriculture. So in those capacities, I’ve spent a lot of time networking with agencies and NGOs like MOSES, NRCS and Southwest Badger RC&D since we host a lot of workshops and field days with them.

What made you decide to run for County Board?

I had concerns about the trends in surface and groundwater quality in my community and thought I’d like to participate in some judicious protective planning and zoning.

Why do you think it is important to be active on the Conservation Committee?

For me it is important because I love farming, and farmers and I place a high value on the Public Trust doctrine as it relates to water. I couldn’t believe that I had the great fortune to serve on my LCC as a freshman county board supervisor.

What does the future of Wisconsin conservation look like?

I think it looks like creative collaboration. Broad, creative and unexpected collaboration. This past year, with the help of Southwest Badger, I organized a producer-led watershed group called Pecatonica Pride with my farmer neighbors. But we also pulled in community groups like the Woman’s Club, the Girl Scouts, the Prairie Enthusiasts and the PTA right off the bat. We want to create a community-wide conversation about water and help our small towns fall in love with the Pecatonica River. I think that love is the best motivation to action and a collaborative effort based on mutual regard for the river and for each other is going to produce a lot of benefit for the soil, water and people.

How would you improve the state of conservation in Wisconsin?

First, I’d improve the state of conversation in Wisconsin! Then I’d change our motto to “Wisconsin: Where Open Space Remains” instead of “Open for Business”. I don’t think we are currently doing enough to balance the interests of  commercial development with the interests of natural resource conservation. Our natural resources are precious and unique – I especially appreciate this as I live in the Driftless area and run a bed and breakfast on my farm – and they represent opportunities for quality of life, recreation, tourism and health that can have economic benefits, too. We are out of balance right now, in my opinion.

What is your county’s most valuable natural resource?

Our soil, absolutely.  But open spaces, fresh air, long views and water resources of every size and shape are very valuable to us, as few people in the world live in a place so beautiful as Lafayette County.

What is one interesting fact about your county that few may know?

We have no stop lights.

What is your favorite outdoor activity in your county?

Farming.