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Anonymous Objections Stalling Land-Conservation Projects

Land trusts are forced to alter their land conservation strategies to avoid project delays.

The Door County Land Trust is limiting the amount of funding it requests for land purchases from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program to avoid lawmakers’ objections, as told to the Door County Pulse.

Because Joint Finance Committee (JFC) members can anonymously object to projects over $250,000, the land trust has stopped seeking grants that are greater than $249,999.99 to avoid having its projects held up. While the land trust would like to ask for more, they are reluctant to do so because of the roadblocks put up by the JFC.

“These additional funding obstacles require substantially more staff time and private donor support to close a deal, making it harder for us to do our work efficiently. This is a concern because there are conservation projects across the state that are being delayed at a time when conservation is most critical,” said Emily Wood, Executive Director of Door County Land Trust.

While many of the land trust’s projects continue to receive funding, they now rely more heavily on other grant sources or donations from private individuals to fully fund their purchases.

“The result has a domino effect across Wisconsin. Water quality is declining; forest cover is disappearing; fisheries are less viable; and wildlife is struggling to find habitat – and the funding set aside to address these issues is unspent,” said Wood.

The Door County Land Trust is working with their conservation partners to raise awareness of this issue, and is asking legislators to require the JFC to hold public hearings and to make objections and final votes on projects public.

Featured image by James Jordan, 2008.

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