Feb 04, 2015

Land Trust Community Alarmed by Governor Walker’s Call to Freeze Knowles Nelson Stewardship Program

Gathering Waters: Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts is alarmed by Governor Walker’s budget proposal to freeze land purchases through the Knowles Nelson Stewardship Program.  As someone who cares about protecting the places that make Wisconsin special, we need your help.  

Please contact your state legislators and the governor’s office today to express your concern and share why the Stewardship Program is important for your community. Feel free to use one of these draft templates in your message and personalize it as you wish.The video below is a reminder of what will be lost without a Stewardship Program.


In a statement, Michael Strigel, executive director of Gathering Waters, said “A prosperous future for Wisconsin should include investments in clean water, in natural resources that support jobs, and in wild places for kids and families to fish, hunt, and explore close to home. The Stewardship Program contributes to a strong economy, healthy communities, and the high quality of life that makes Wisconsin a desirable place to live, work and play.”

Wisconsin’s $12 billion outdoor recreation industry, including our $4 billion hunting and fishing industries, are directly supported by the Stewardship Program’s protection of our land resources.  So is our state’s $20 billion forestry industry – through working forest conservation easements and land purchases.  “The Stewardship Program costs each resident in Wisconsin less per year than a fishing license or a state park sticker,” Strigel added.  “The benefits to our state far outweigh the cost.”


Examples of how a strong, well-funded Stewardship Program contributes to our economy and quality of life include:

  • Recent projects are directly bolstering Wisconsin’s economy, like the Brule St. Croix Legacy Forest, which partially supports more than 700 jobs and nearly $27 million in payroll income in forest-related businesses.  Lack of available timber is a major concern in some areas of the state, as is fragmentation of forestland, and the Stewardship Program helps to ensure that large blocks of timber remain in sustainable production, keeping raw material available for mills.
  • The Stewardship Program helps to protect key segments of the Ice Age Trail, which was estimated in 2012 to attract 1,252,685 visitors annually, while supporting 1,481 full-time equivalent jobs in the tourism industry, and driving $113,961,357 in annual direct sales to statewide and local economies from Ice Age Trail visitors.
  • Lack of public access to land is a significant threat to our state’s sporting heritage, and Stewardship provides access for hunting and fishing across the state.  Trout anglers alone produce an economic benefit to the Driftless Area in excess of $1.1 billion every year.  Stream-bank easements, funded through Stewardship, provide the public access that helps to drive this activity.

Wisconsin’s land trust community looks forward to working with the legislature to reinstate Stewardship funding.  The Assembly Republican agenda for this session supports Stewardship funding, stating that, “Not only is protecting our environment the right thing to do, it also vital to our economy. Tourism sustains roughly 185,000 jobs in Wisconsin, or 7.8% of total employment in our state.  People flock to our state to enjoy our pristine waterways and hike our beautiful forests.”  We couldn’t agree more.

Watch these three videos to see the difference the Stewardship Program is making in communities throughout the state:

Enhancing the Lives of Milwaukee's Urban Youth:

Find out how the Stewarship Program helps land trusts to provide job skills and free, easy access to the wonders of the natural world, right in the heart of the city.




Protecting Jobs and Way of Life:

Find out how the Stewardship Program helps protect jobs, wildlife and habitat while providing clean air, water and beautiful places to enjoy.





Providing Education Opportunities & Healthier Options for Children:

Find out how the Stewardship Program helps enrich the lives and educations of children and others thoughought Wisconsin Communities.















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