Since 1989, the Knowles Nelson Stewardship Program has been used to expand nature-based outdoor recreational opportunities and protecting environmentally sensitive areas. For the last 30 years, Knowles Nelson has provided funds to: the WDNR, local governments, and nonprofits to protect and preserve lands in all of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. The number of projects and amount of land funded is unbelievable.
This program is especially impactful on Wisconsin’s hunters and anglers. The Wisconsin DNR’s grant staff indicates that since 2007, 94% of lands purchased with stewardship grants are open to hunting and 100% of properties are open for state fishing seasons.
But we need your help to ensure this critically important conservation program continues. If the Legislature and Governor don’t renew and adequately fund the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program in the upcoming state budget, Wisconsin will lose the best tool we have to provide public lands for hunting and fishing.
The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is up for reauthorization every 10 years. During the last state budget, the Wisconsin Legislature broke with decades of conservation tradition and only funded the program through 2021. Planning and executing Stewardship projects can take years. Therefore, landowners, donors, nonprofits, and government agencies need certainty about the long-term future of the program in order for projects to be as strategic and successful as possible. That’s why a 10- year authorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is so important.
The past year has made the need for public lands even more clear. More than ever, the people of Wisconsin relied on these public properties as a place to escape the drudgeries of day-to-day life. During the quarantine and throughout the coming months, our public lands saw overwhelming use.
Your state legislators need to hear your voice. During the current budget process, state legislators could reduce or eliminate funding for this essential program that provides public lands for hunting and fishing. Please contact your legislators and tell them that you support a 10-year reauthorization and continued robust funding for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.
Currently 55,000 acres of Wisconsin public land are inaccessible, being completely surrounded by private holdings. Through thoughtful and strategic purchases, Knowles-Nelson can make a huge difference in unlocking those acres, granting access to properties the state already owns.
Being in the outdoors is part of our identity. The scent of pine and lake water on a warm June day, hearing Red-Winged Blackbirds in the marsh, the cackle of a rooster or thunderous flush of a Grouse; all of these experiences make us who we are and are made available to everyone via Knowles Nelson.
Please contact your legislators and tell them that you support reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund for the next 10 years.
It is our duty to contribute to and uphold our legacy as leaders in conservation and public land management. Without your voice, this crucial program could be swept under the rug in the name of a balanced budget. We need this funding to remain balanced Wisconsinites.