On May 19, the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) voted to maintain a strong Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and supported policies within the program that will help to ensure that Stewardship remains effective in the future. Gathering Waters Conservancy released a statement recognizing this significant step.
A broad coalition of conservation supporters from the land trust community and beyond has been active and vocal for many years proclaiming the value of Stewardship. These voices have been heard over the last several months and everyone who cares about the places that make Wisconsin special can feel good about the results.
While the JFC’s action does reduce the level of funding to the previously authorized level of $60 million per year, the reinstatement of payments in lieu of property taxes and conservation easements goes a long way to ensuring that land trusts, local units of government and the state can preserve the lands that support our tourism and forestry industries. It also ensures that our rich land legacy will continue for our children and grandchildren.
Thank you to everyone for the efforts that helped us all achieve this milestone. But, let’s all remember, more work remains as we expect that the budget will go to the full Legislature for a vote in late June or early July and then be considered by the Governor shortly thereafter. We’ll continue to work with all those who care about this vital program to be sure decision makers hear our voices. Please stay tuned to our website for more information as the process continues.