A forest in Taylor County, where Knowles-Nelson grants have created new recreational and economic opportunities.

Calling on legislators to fund Knowles-Nelson

Stewardship program has created recreation opportunities and boosted rural economy in Taylor County.

In an opinion piece for the Star News, longtime Taylor County resident Bob Rusch urges his legislators to support renewal and increased funding of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, citing the many benefits the program has provided to Taylor County.

As a dedicated Ice Age Trail volunteer, Bob notes that completing the trail across the state will require the purchase of land or easements, and calls the proposed increase in Knowles-Nelson funding “not only appropriate but necessary for the Ice Age Trail to complete the remaining 600 miles yet to be built.”

Bob also describes how “Stewardship monies have been essential in acquiring recreational opportunities in Taylor County in addition to the Ice Age Trail,” including a boat launch and beach on Rib Lake, and the completion of the county’s most popular park around Wood Lake.

Bob is concerned by the fact that Taylor County has been losing population for almost a century, and points to “lack of work or jobs paying less than what you can reasonably support a family on” as a major reason. However, recreation opportunities may reverse this trend. Bob writes:

“In the Town of Rib Lake we now have two B&B’s. The majority of their clients come from urban areas seeking the amenities of the Northwoods and its extensive system of trails. This is also true for the motel in the Village of Rib Lake. Obviously, these guests buy gasoline, food and pay for other services. I don’t think there is any doubt that they will continue to contribute to a growing portion of local commercial activity.”

For these reasons, Bob asks his representatives to “advocate and vote for full reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson legislation.”

If you want to send a message like Bob’s to your legislators, you can do so here. Plus, check out our Take Action page.

Featured image by Joshua Mayer, 2016.

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