WGF Supports Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund Reauthorization

WI Green Fire, October 12, 2020

Lake
Allequash Lake & Pines Wisconsin State Natural Area #508 Vilas County

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund (KNSF) was created in 1989 to preserve important natural communities, protect water quality and fisheries, expand outdoor recreation opportunities, and increase public land access across Wisconsin. In Janurary of 2020, Wisconsin Representatives Amy Loudenbeck from Clinton, and Joel Kitchens from Sturgeon Bay, proposed a bill to reauthorize the KNSF. The bill would extend funding for land and water conservation in Wisconsin for eight years, ensuring land and water conservation funding until 2030.

In August, representatives from Wisconsin’s Green Fire were able to speak with Governor Evers and Lt. Governer Barns about the KNSF and provide a letter to identify additional program needs and offer up suggestions on framing the case for continued funding of this important conservation program.

The letter includes the rationale for why the need for conservation funding is growing. In essence, a new suite of issues that have arisen since the KNSF’s establishment. These new challenges include the need to help communities by mitigating the risk of climate change impacts from severe storms that threaten public safety and property, and the need to protect water quality from non-point source contaminants that threaten public health.

Secondly, the letter advocates the need for creating a strong case for support of the KNSF that speaks to the most important and urgent priorities for the state. Including focused efforts on protecting vulnerable communities from climate-related impacts, protecting clean water, offsetting greenhouse gas emissions, investing in the quality of life in our communities, and maintaining our rural way of life on working farms and forests.

Lastly, the letter addresses the fund’s design by suggesting updates to the implementation of the program. This includes the need to increase KNSF funding, the potential need to rebrand to make the program relevant to a new generation of supporters, and the importance of broadening the coalition of stakeholders that support the KNSF.

You can read our full comment letter to the DNR here.

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