Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program

Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund Graphic             

The Threat

The future of land and water protection in Wisconsin is at risk

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program has provided millions of dollars for land and water protection in Wisconsin for nearly 30 years. This January, our newly elected officials will begin debating the future of this Program.

Unless the GOP-controlled legislature and Governor-elect Evers agree to include the Stewardship Program in the next state budget, we will lose this vital source of funding for land and water protection.

In January, your elected officials will begin debating how much money (if any) will be available for land and water protection in Wisconsin. The results of the debate in 2019 will have more impact than normal because your elected officials will make critical decisions about funding for the next decade—not just the next two years.

Since it was created through a bipartisan effort 30 years ago, funding for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program has been “reauthorized” every 10 years.

This means that every decade, legislators have agreed: land and water protection should be funded for the next 10 years at an amount that is renegotiated during each two-year state budget process.

So this January, in addition to the normal debate on how much money (if any) will be made available for land and water protection in the next state budget, your elected officials will also debate whether or not to reauthorize the Stewardship Program for another 10 years.

If the Program is not reauthorized, there will be no funding available in the state budget for land and water protection, for at least the next 10 years. 

The Solution

The GOP-controlled legislature and Governor-elect Evers must agree to include the Stewardship Program in the next state budget and to reauthorize it for another 10 years.

Gathering Waters has historically led the way to success on this issue—making sure the Stewardship Program receives healthy funding every two years in the state budget and that it is reauthorized every ten. We have already been laying a strong foundation for the 2019 battle. Over the last year, we:

  • Hired professional lobbyists to be our eyes and ears and get us the right meetings, with the right people, at the right times
  • Formed a coalition and task force with over 20 other organizations on this issue
  • Conducted a statewide poll that verified land and water protection is very important to a vast majority of Republicans and Democrats
  • Hosted six advocacy forums around the state to answer questions and get people involved
  • Researched the best tools and tactics for influencing elected officials These efforts lay a firm foundation for the Team Knowles Nelson grassroots campaign.

We will continue to build on the foundation we have laid, but there is one critical piece missing: The most powerful way to influence the decisions of elected officials is to have their constituents communicate with them. They need to hear that funding land and water protection in Wisconsin is important to you.

But most people don’t reach out to their elected officials. Many feel a phone call or note seems too simple to be effective. Others feel the details are not clear about who and how and what to say. That’s why we are inviting you to join Team Knowles-Nelson.

Be Part of the Solution 

Join Team Knowles-Nelson

Membership to Team Knowles-Nelson is free and we encourage every single person who cares about protecting Wisconsin’s land and water to join.

What does it mean to be a member of Team Knowles-Nelson?

To put it simply, if you join Team Knowles-Nelson, it means you are willing to take small actions to protect the Stewardship Program and you want Gathering Waters to provide you with instructions you need to take them.

As a member of Team Knowles-Nelson, we will make it very easy for you to communicate with your elected officials and let them know that funding land and water protection in Wisconsin is important to you.

We will let you know, exactly:

  • When to reach out
  • Who to contact
  • How to connect
  • What message to communicate

Support Team Knowles-Nelson

With so much at stake, Gathering Waters has researched and worked with specialists to determine the best ways to recruit and empower the people who want to make a difference (go Team!)

The better our tools and resources, the stronger and more effective the Team will be. We aim to raise $200,000 for this effort before March, 2019. An outline of our funding needs for this effort can be found here. If you would like to learn more about the specifics of this campaign or would like to discuss the ways in which a large gift could make a huge impact, please reach out to Development Director, Mindy Petersen, CFRE, at (608) 251-9131 x 15 or

Every dollar counts. Please consider making a donation today. 


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