Our Government Relations Program

Gathering Waters is a non-partisan, solution oriented advocate for private, voluntary land conservation. We work with government agencies and lawmakers to make sure Wisconsin policies reflect citizens’ land conservation values, support permanent land conservation, and strengthen the land trust community.

Our government relations program has enjoyed several successes in recent years, and we are committed to following through on this work and continuing to invest in our policy program.  In our current three-year strategic plan (approved January 21, 2011), our Board of Directors again identified our policy work as one of three core programs for our organization, and we continue to dedicate resources to this program area.

Since Gathering Waters was founded in 1994, the growth in size and scope of the land trust community has been remarkable.  It is reflected not only in the land trust community’s on-the-ground conservation successes, but also in the need and urgency of advocacy work to promote public policies that make these successes possible.  As a result, our presence at the Capitol and investment in policy advocacy has grown proportionately. 

When the Stewardship Program needed a champion in 2003, and again in 2007, Gathering Waters worked with our growing group of land trusts leaders to successfully protect and increase funding for the program.  In 2009, we led a successful campaign to see the Working Lands Initiative passed into law – legislation that created the PACE Program. 

These successes were made possible by the powerful collective voice of Wisconsin’s land trust community.


How do we select our policy priorities?

Gathering Waters staff, Policy Committee, and full Board of Directors use several criteria to inform and frame our organization’s policy priority setting process.  Our annual policy priorities do not necessarily meet every criterion, but each criterion is considered in our decision-making process.

Criteria for Setting Policy Priorities:

  • Does the policy objective fit within Gathering Waters three-year strategic plan?
  • Would the objective of the policy priority result in broad statewide or regional benefits?
  • Is there a reasonable prospect that the objective will be successful?
  • Will Gathering Waters participation provide a unique contribution to the success of the policy priority?
  • Does Gathering Waters have the capacity to help achieve that success?
  • Will the initiative have general support from Gathering Waters membership?
  • Is the objective consistent with land trusts’ support for voluntary conservation by willing landowners?

Photo courtesy of Gil Grib

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