Winter sunrise over Lake Michigan. Across Wisconsin, the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program has preserved similar vistas.

Evers’ Budget Proposes Significant Investment To Address Climate Change, Protect Public Lands

Knowles-Nelson offers rare opportunity for bipartisan consensus.

Governor Tony Evers has unveiled his 2021-2023 budget proposal, and it includes a strong emphasis on climate change and natural resources, reports Danielle Kaeding for Wisconsin Public Radio.

Among numerous proposals to increase conservation staffing, address pollution, and provide funding to fight climate change, Evers has also proposed renewing the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program for 10 years at an increased funding level of $70 million per year.

State Senator Rob Cowles (R – Green Bay) says “he thinks the Legislature should reauthorize the stewardship program.” However, he and other GOP lawmakers are not sure about the funding level.

Polling conducted in the fall found that 92% of respondents support land conservation, “including more than half of conservative voters.”

In addition, “the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the value of public lands,” according to Matt Dallman, deputy state director of the Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin. He “argues public lands are vital to the state’s $24 billion forest economy and outdoor recreation economy, which contributes $7.8 billion each year.” Plus, “every acre protected in the state provides a $3,000 return to the state’s overall economy, according to research.”

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Featured image by Elvis Kennedy, 2012.

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