Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program

Budget Press Release - February 2017

Press Release Template for Locals

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.

Named for two of Wisconsin's most respected former governors—Warren Knowles and Gaylord Nelson —the Stewardship Program has achieved incredible results, protecting 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.

Lands and waters protected by the Stewardship Program provide remarkable recreational opportunities for hikers, bikers, bird-watchers, hunters and anglers. These lands and waters are also an important contributor to Wisconsin’s tourism and timber economies.

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.

There is no question that the Stewardship Program has accomplished great things, yet with increases in population and growth and demand for outdoor recreational opportunities, its work is far from done.

Over the years, Gathering Waters has fought to prevent funding cuts and ensure that the program was reauthorized each decade with increased funding to conserve more of Wisconsin’s special lands and waters.

We must continue to ensure that Wisconsin’s Stewardship Program—one of our nation’s most successful conservation programs—remains strong and well-funded. If we do, it will continue to provide natural areas, state parks and bike trails that Wisconsinites will enjoy for generations to come.

If you have questions about the Stewardship Program and how it helps the Conservancy protect Wisconsin’s lands and waters, please contact Chris Danou.

What are some of the benefits? 

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.

The Stewardship Program directly supports Wisconsin’s $20 billion forestry industry and $12 billion outdoor recreation industry —including our $4 billion hunting and fishing industries.

The annual cost for the Stewardship Program is 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.


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