WITH AN unpredictable economy and increasing urbanization, landowners are looking for alternative ways to gain income while making the best use of their available resources.

To explore and encourage sustainable natural resource development, Mississippi State University Extension Service will host the first National Symposium on Sustainable Natural Resource-Based Alternative Enterprises May 28-31.

The two and one-half day event at the Bost Extension Center will feature speakers from around the country discussing the opportunities and advantages of sustaining natural resources on private lands.

“The goal of this symposium is to present the latest information and provide educational programs to help landowners and entrepreneurs create and expand natural resource enterprises,” said Jim Miller, an outreach/research professor in MSU's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

With recently depressed agricultural prices, landowners may consider the profitability of alternatives like opening a bed and breakfast, providing recreational access for hunting, fishing and observing wildlife, building a hunting lodge, or raking and baling pine straw for mulch. But landowners may be unsure of how to start or maintain a new business.

“Landowners are asking questions about the current trends in recreational access, the liability of having recreational activities on their land and the compatibility of a new venture with their current operation,” Miller said. “The symposium will seek to answer those questions and provide options for landowners to consider.”

The symposium will feature a variety of case histories of landowners who have successfully developed natural resources and continue to profit from their efforts.

“Professionals in the industry can advise people on what alternative enterprises they might consider on their land, but if they hear it from actual landowners who have successfully put these things in place, there is an added sense of credibility,” Miller said.

The cost of attendance is $150 per person if pre-registered by May 15, and $195 after May 15. The cost includes the Friday night banquet and snacks for the twice-daily breaks between sessions.

For more information, as well as a preliminary program, visit http://www.msucares.com/wildfish/economics/pdfs/syposium03.pdf.