The recently-passed state budget included some good news and some bad news for Gathering Waters and Wisconsin land trusts. The Stewardship Program compromise, which provides $33 million annually, was passed into law, but the capacity grant that supports Gathering Waters' direct services to land trusts was eliminated by a veto.
Dec 05, 2011
Stewardship ALERT: Senate Hearing on AB 311
The Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee will hold a public hearing on AB 311 on Wednesday, December 7th, at 11:00am.
As we've shared previously, we believe this legislation has the potential to negatively impact the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.
The full Assembly voted to approve an amended, and somewhat improved, version of AB 311 on October 24th. Unfortunately, the amended version of the legislation still retained some troubling provisions related to the Stewardship Program. In particular, the amended bill requires four out of seven NRB members to vote in favor of any prohibitions of nature-based outdoor activities (i.e., hunting, trapping, fishing, hiking and cross country skiing). While this may sound reasonable, there could be unintended consequences. For instance, if any members of the NRB are absent from a meeting where a decision is made on a Stewardship project, then functionally a super-majority vote will be needed. Or, alternatively, if the NRB sets a policy that it will only approve Stewardship projects at meetings with all Board members present then projects could be delayed for weeks, if not months. A cleaner approach that would reduce the risk of losing important Stewardship projects would be to stick with current law, which requires a simple majority vote of those NRB members in attendance at monthly meetings.
We also continue to believe that AB311's requirement of an economic impact analysis on individual Stewardship projects would be unrealistic and unnecessary. The economic impact of the Stewardship Program should be carefully examined at the state and regional levels.
If you aren't able to attend the hearing on Wednesday, please contact your legislators directly. There are several ways to determine which legislators represent you or your organization's service area including a statewide map of Senate Districts, inputting your address or municipality, or via a directory of Senate contact information.