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Conservation protections may be lost in Wisconsin: Please act now!

January 8, 2022  |  Topics: Issues

A message from Gathering Waters

The Beerline Trail, Milwaukee River Greenway
The Beerline Trail, Milwaukee River Greenway, Milwaukee

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program was created in 1989 to preserve important natural communities, protect water quality and fisheries, and expand opportunities for outdoor recreation. It has been used successfully by local governments and land trusts throughout Wisconsin to permanently protect places that make Wisconsin special. However, the permanence of that protection is now in jeopardy due to a proposed bill, SB 802, in the Wisconsin state legislature.  

I urge you to take action now!

Kettle Moraine State Forest - Loew Lake Unit
Kettle Moraine State Forest – Loew Lake Unit, Washington County

I started to go through the list of properties just in SE Wisconsin that have been protected through this program but the list was too long! It is clear that nearly every community in the state has benefited from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. I am accompanying this message with just a few images I’ve shot in places in our area representing a tiny fraction of those that have benefited from the program.  

~ Eddee Daniel, Preserve Our Parks

Hidden Lake Park and Brookfield Greenway Trail System
Hidden Lake Park and Brookfield Greenway Trail System, Brookfield

Please read the message below from Gathering Waters, Wisconsin’s alliance for land trusts, to learn more:

“We want to bring to your attention proposed legislation, SB 802, that would make it far easier to sell certain public lands acquired through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. The bill has been introduced by Senator Mary Felzkowski and has several co-sponsors from both chambers. 

“At a time when Wisconsin’s public lands are more popular than ever, we are concerned that this legislation would undermine the Stewardship Program by removing safeguards and reducing the certainty that Knowles-Nelson lands will remain conserved and open to the public.

“This legislation focuses on local governments and nonprofit organizations that conserve land with grants from Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. The bill provides that these grantees could take land out of conservation and sell it for any purpose, without any checks and balances, as long as they return the grant money with interest. Those funds would then be used to pay down debt on the Stewardship Program and not used for other conservation priorities.”

Chiwaukee Prairie State Natural Area, Kenosha County
Fox River Parkway, Waukesha

Note: The links in the captions will take you to our Find-a-Park page to learn more about the park or preserve.

Gathering Waters is a project partner of A Wealth of Nature. All images by Eddee Daniel, curator of The Natural Realm.