Land and water care: New manuals explore stewardship concepts

Contact: Maridith Geuder

Two transplanted Canadians whose academic interests include rural studies and sustainable design are editors of a multi-volume series they hope will take root in their new home state.

Lee-Anne S. Milburn and Susan J. Mulley, both of Mississippi State University's landscape architecture department, supervised the compilation of five separate manuals jointly titled "Caring for Our Land and Water." The series recently was issued by the University of Guelph, Ontario.

The publications are based on a first-ever national conference coordinated by Mulley and former teaching colleague Stewart Hilts through the Centre for Land and Water Stewardship at the Canadian university. Hilts also collaborated as an editor of the collected papers.

Arriving in Mississippi a year apart, Milburn and Mulley have discovered many parallels between the Magnolia State and their native land to the north.

"Both Canada and Mississippi have large areas of public and private land," Milbun said. "Also in both, people often are unaware of the opportunities for stewardship."

Most broadly defined, stewardship is any action reflecting positively on the land and natural resources. "Caring for Our Land and Water" explores state-of-the-art stewardship and conservation initiatives, as well as some of the issues faced by such programs.

"One of the major challenges is finding ways to motivate and encourage people to become involved," said Mulley. "These volumes are written for a general audience to provide a resource for anyone interested."

Papers are grouped in five broad topics: stewardship policy and programs; legal tools for conservation; working with landowners; land trusts and community groups in conservation; and traditional knowledge, partnerships and organizations. The publications focus both on the human relationships, as well as policy and legal tools to foster stewardship.

"Mississippi has a great opportunity for people at the local level to have an impact," Milburn said. "There also is a tremendous opportunity to develop initiatives in small communities."

Mulley added: "As members of academia, it is our responsibility to help individuals and communities understand the issues. With this work, we've tried to provide information in a form that can be used."

Mulley, who joined the MSU faculty in 2001, holds bachelor's degrees in history and animal science and a master of landscape architecture degree, all from Guelph.

A 2002 addition to the faculty, Milburn holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Manitoba and a master's in landscape architecture from Guelph.

For more information from the editors, telephone (662) 325-3012. Milburn may also be reached directly at; Mulley, at

Mon, 03/03/2003 - 06:00