Reporting for WJFW Newswatch 12, Morgan Johnson highlights how outdoor recreation purchases and tourism in Wisconsin’s Northwoods have surged during the pandemic, “thanks to its bountiful outdoor trails and parks,” many of which “exist because of… the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.”
For example, Mitch Mode, owner of the sporting goods store Mel’s Trading Post in Rhinelander, describes nearby Perch Lake and its “ski, snowshoe trails, [and] fat bike trails” as a “wonderful facility funded in part by Stewardship funds.”
However, Republican Senator Mary Felzkowski says Governor Ever’s recent proposal to renew Knowles-Nelson at $70 million per year is too high, and that the Northwoods is “saturated” with public land at this point, hurting the tax base. She would like the program “to focus on maintenance of land the state already owns and to buy land closer to population centers in southern Wisconsin.”
Matt Dallman of the Nature Conservancy counters this argument by pointing out that Knowles-Nelson lands can generate revenue with timber sales, and that at less than one percent of the state budget, “what we gain is much more than what we’re putting out.”
Mitch Mode agrees, saying that Knowles-Nelson will “keep the Northwoods as the place to recreate and bring in tourism.”
“It simply enhances the Northwoods experience,” says Mode. “It keeps the Northwoods being the Northwoods, and the things that people value up here are renewed and protected with funding from the Stewardship fund.”
Featured image by Marc Buehler, 2014.