Writing for the Door County Pulse‘s Green Page, Craig Sterrett explains Governor Tony Evers’ proposal to renew and strengthen funding for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, and highlights the program’s impacts in Door County.
Governor Evers is recommending renewing Knowles-Nelson for 10 years at an increased rate of $70 million per year. In Door County alone, “the program has provided funding for $28.4 million worth of acquisitions and projects” since 1992, “ranging from 80 Door County Land Trust properties to Sturgeon Bay park expansion and Ahnapee State Trail enhancement,” as well as a “72-acre expansion of Door Bluff Headlands, the northernmost point on the peninsula,” by the Door County Government.
The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin, which owns the popular Mink River Estuary among other properties in Door County, has expressed strong support for renewal of the program. According to state director Elizabeth Koehler, one important factor to consider is the “major increases in visits and use of public lands and waters” during the pandemic, which indicates a need to keep investing in parks and their facilities.
Koehler also points out that acquisition of sensitive land helps protect water quality, a major concern for Wisconsinsites, and adds that “program renewal needs to be long term and robust because the Knowles-Nelson buying power is not keeping up with the pace of private-development pressure on important sites.”
Republican State Representative Joel Kitchens of Sturgeon Bay in Door County has been a longtime advocate of Knowles-Nelson, and hopes to persuade his colleagues to support a longer-term renewal at an increased funding level.
Burke Pinney, Door County parks manager, agrees.
“We would like to see more, and we would always like to see the program made permanent,” Pinney said.
Featured image by Katie Wheeler, 2016.