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Wildlife Photographer Jim Brandenburg to be featured at Ecotourism Conference at UMC on October 23-24, 2006
October 5, 2006

What: Conference on the Aspen Parkland

When: October 23 - 24, 2006

Contact: Elizabeth Tollefson, assistant director of communications, 218-281-8432 ( ; Dan Svedarsky, head, Natural Resources Department, 218-281-8129 ( )

photo by John Gregor (all rights reserved)
CROOKSTON, MN (October 5, 2006) – A unique conference on “Ecology of the Aspen Parkland – life at the edge,” and featuring nationally known wildlife photographer, Jim Brandenburg, will be staged at the University of Minnesota, Crookston (UMC) on Oct. 23-24, 2006.  Presentations begin in Bede Ballroom in the Student Center on Monday, Oct. 23 at 1 p.m. followed by a wine and cheese social at 5 p.m., a banquet at 6 p.m., and followed by a special presentation by Brandenburg at 7:30 p.m. in the Kiehle Auditorium. Presentations will reconvene at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24 and conclude at 3:30 p.m. Full registration including attendance at all sessions, refreshment breaks, the wine and cheese social, banquet, and the Brandenburg presentation on Monday as well as the noon lunch on Tuesday is $ 65. Students are $35 for the full registration. For those wishing to attend the Brandenburg presentation only, the cost is $ 15.00 per person, payable prior to the presentation in the Kiehle Auditorium. Doors open that evening at 7 p.m. with the presentation at 7:30 p.m.

Aspen Parkland is a special landscape in northwest Minnesota and southern Manitoba consisting of groves of aspen trees intermixed with tallgrass prairie, wetlands, and wooded rivers and streams. “Edges or ecotones, where different ecosystems come together are special wildlife areas,” Dan Svedarsky head of UMC’s Department of Natural Resources and conference organizer notes. “They offer the best of both worlds and our area is loaded with them.”

Noted National Geographic photographer, author and filmmaker, Jim Brandenburg is considered one of the premier wildlife photographers in the world. In the summer of 1975, Brandenburg immersed himself in photographing natural areas of The Nature Conservancy, especially prairies in northwest Minnesota. His photographs have appeared in magazines such as Life, Newsweek, Time, The Smithsonian, and Geo—often on the cover. Brandenburg was twice named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographer's Association, and in 1988, he was named Wildlife Photographer of the Year by the British Museum of Natural History and the BBC, sponsored by Kodak. In 1981, he was commissioned by the United States Postal Service to photograph and design a set of ten wildlife stamps which were released on May 14 that year. He was honored in 1991 with the Global 500 Environmental World Achievement Award from the United Nations Environment program which was presented to him by the King of Coastal Sweden.

The conference will also honor Ron Nargang, recently retired State Director of the Minnesota Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and architect of key acquisitions in the Aspen Parkland region. During the conference, naturalists, biologists and ecotourism specialists from Minnesota, North Dakota, and Canada will each tell the Aspen Parkland story from their point of view.  Elk ecology and management, snake dens of Manitoba, recent changes in wildlife and plant distribution, migratory bird routes, ecotourism potentials, early settlement history and grouse as ecological indicators will all be featured. According to Svedarsky, “This is probably the first time that a full conference has been devoted to this special region of North America. It has been somewhat underappreciated as far as its unique values and potentials. Where else might you see a timber wolf, elk, white-tailed deer, black bear, Sandhill cranes and a sharp-tailed grouse in a couple of days?”

Co-sponsors of the conference include: Northwest Research and Outreach Center; University of Minnesota, Crookston; Crookston Visitor’s Bureau; The Nature Conservancy; Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership; Northwest Minnesota Foundation; Minnesota Chapter of The Wildlife Society; Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society; and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Northwest Minnesota is uniquely positioned in North America at the intersection of 3 continental biomes; tallgrass prairie, deciduous forest and the boreal component of the coniferous forest.  It is perhaps one of the least known but most extensive open to semi-open landscapes in the eastern U. S. which still retains many natural qualities. It is a relatively young landscape as far as European settlement and considerable native communities are present including: The Nature Conservancy’s Glacial Ridge Project,  the largest prairie and wetland restoration project in North America; the Wallace C. Dayton Aspen Parkland Preserve near Karlstad; wildlife management areas of the Minnesota Department of the Natural Resources (MN DNR), notably the 2,000-acre Mentor Prairie near Mentor;  and waterfowl production areas of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Northwest Minnesota lies in a major migratory bird flyway and hosts all 4 species of Minnesota’s grouse.  A number of other bird species are noteworthy such as Sandhill cranes, yellow rails, short-eared owls, and Baird’s sparrows.  The state’s only free-ranging elk herd occurs near Grygla and Karlstad and one herd is shared with Manitoba.

The conference will be complementary to the recent article, “Parkland Ambling,” in the Minnesota Volunteer magazine which includes a photo gallery of this special region. See .

For more information on the conference, contact Judy Baatz by e-mail at or phone 218-281-8128 or Dan Svedarsky at or 218-281-8129. View the Aspen Parkland Conference brochure and list available lodging.

 The University of Minnesota, Crookston (UMC) delivers more than 24 different undergraduate degree programs, including online options, in agriculture; arts, humanities and social sciences; business; math, science and technology; and natural resources. UMC is dedicated to helping students and the region aim higher, reach further and dream big dreams. To learn more, visit