In 1989, Governor Tommy Thompson and the Wisconsin legislature created the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program to preserve valuable natural areas and wildlife habitat, protect water quality and fisheries, and expand the opportunities for outdoor recreation. Normally, the Stewardship Program is on a 10-year cycle, but it was only budgeted for three years until 2022. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has recommended that Governor Evers’ next biennial budget include 10-year reauthorization of the program through 2031. The Nature Conservancy was deeply involved in crafting this recommendation and will work with the governor, state legislators of both parties, and the WDNR to ensure that this recommendation is adopted in the next state budget.
We have time to get a coalition of partners from other conservation, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation groups to increase funding for the program, and reauthorize it for a longer period of time.
What Does the Stewardship Program Do?
More than 90 percent of Wisconsinites recognize the importance of reauthorizing the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program to protect our state’s lands, waters, and wildlife, fight climate change with natural solutions, maintain our mental and physical well-being, and grow our outdoor recreation and local economies. (The Nature Conservancy)
- Clean Water — Protecting the forests, wetlands and grasslands that filter out pollutants in runoff before they reach our lakes, rivers, and groundwater.
- Groundwater Protection — Protecting the lands that are essential to replenish the groundwater is critical to ensure a consistent supply of clean, safe water.
- Flood Protection — Protecting grasslands, wetlands, and forests along rivers upstream to store water and help reduce the risk of severe flooding downstream.
- Recreation Economy — Protecting hundreds of thousands of acres of land and hundreds of river miles for hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, and other types of recreation.
- Urban Outdoor Opportunities — Providing outdoor opportunities near home for all Wisconsin residents, including more trails and parks for those living in cities and surrounding urban areas.
- Wildlife Habitat — Protecting large blocks of wetlands, forest, and prairie for birds, waterfowl, pollinators, bats, small and large mammals, and other rare, protected, and endangered species to roam.
- Working Lands — Protecting working forest, prairie, and rivers in Wisconsin, along with the jobs and products they provide.
The Stewardship Fund is a nonpartisan program. It was named after former governors Warren Knowles, a Republican, and Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat. It’s the right thing to do for Wisconsin’s land, water, and wildlife. We have to make sure our lawmakers know how important land and water protection is for our state.
Write the legislature today.
Please let them know what you think about it.
The e-mail photo courtesy of WDNR.