Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is a highly successful public-private partnership that currently provides $50 million annually to secure critical wildlife habitat, conserve the best of outdoor Wisconsin and provide consistent world class outdoor recreation opportunities. It has played a key role in the success of land trusts throughout Wisconsin.

The 2017 State Budget - The Stewardship Program is at risk

Lands purchased through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program help protect Wisconsin's air and water quality, and provide outdoor places that are close to home, where folks go to find peace, recreate, and reap the health benefits associated with such areas. Assembly Bill 338 seeks to reallocate most of that funding to create scholarships for students and purchase low-value lands already owned by the state. 

Please call your legislators and urge them to appose this bill. 

The Benefits

The Stewardship Program has protected more than 500,000 acres of Wisconsin’s most beautiful and diverse lands and waters since 1990.  Projects have ranged from 100-square-mile purchases such as the Wild Rivers Legacy Forest in northeast Wisconsin to 1-acre additions to the Hank Aaron State Trail in Milwaukee. 100% of these lands and waters will be available to you, for all of your favorite outdoor activities, forever.

Additionally, the Stewardship Program:

  • INVESTS in clean water and natural resources, which support jobs and provide wild places for all of us to fish, hunt, and explore close to home.
  • DIRECTLY SUPPORTS Wisconsin’s $20 billion forestry industry and $12 billion outdoor recreation industry —including our $4 billion hunting and fishing industries.
  • COSTS LESS  than 0.3% of the total state budget. That means that the Stewardship Program costs each Wisconsin resident less than a fishing license or state park sticker each year.

A History of Strong Bi-partisan Support

Over the years, the citizens of Wisconsin have shown overwhelming support for this program. In a bipartisan poll conducted by The Nature Conservancy, nearly 90 percent of Wisconsin voters agreed that even in tight fiscal times this program should be a priority.

Over the years, Gathering Waters has fought to prevent funding cuts and ensure that the program was reauthorized each decade. With our population growing and an increased demand for outdoor recreational opportunities, our work is far from done.  

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