Savage Journeys: Duren Family Farm

Revolutionizing conservation and community with an idea that you can use, too.

posted on June 22, 2023

Doug Duren is anything but driftless.

There's a place in southwest Wisconsin that's known as the Driftless Area, and it's there that Doug Duren's family has held a 400-acre farm for 120 years. It's also there that Duren is creating a new land-management project that will assist his family and many others on their own Savage Journeys. He’s revolutionizing conservation and community by allowing visitors access to his land in exchange for their assistance with maintenance and management projects on the farm.

Duren attributes the project’s success to its values, which are rooted in the works of Aldo Leopold. Many people know Leopold as a pioneer in wildlife conservation and are familiar with his life story and major accomplishments. Leopold’s collection of essays “A Sand County Almanac” is iconic in many conservation, environmental and hunting communities–and Duren will be the first to agree with its importance.

The success of Duren’s project continues with the accompanied creation of Sharing the Land, a conservation cooperators network which Duren started in 2020. It serves to connect landowners with those seeking hunting access. Today landowners in eight states have joined Sharing the Land, 30 properties are part of the network and more than 300 people have signed up as access seekers - proving that The Duren Family Farm experiment is not only beneficial to the land, but successful for encouraging community and conservation efforts over time.

“Leopold, that little book, and his other essays have continued to speak to me throughout my life,” Duren said. He adds that, “Leopold and a fascinating project: The Riley Game Cooperative,” were a great inspiration to this experiment in conservation on his farm. “At Riley, Leopold and some folks from town became friends with a group of local farmers. They worked together to improve marginal land for all wildlife, especially game species. Cooperatively they shared the work, the hunting and recreation benefits of their efforts.” 




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