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Opinion | GOP thumbs its nose at Earth Week

Republican members on the Joint Finance Committee voted "no" to secure permanent conservation and public access for the Pelican River Forest.

While Wisconsinites were celebrating their bipartisan commitment to protecting the environment during Earth Week, the state legislature’s Joint Finance Committee voted against the largest land conservation project in Wisconsin history.

“Gaylord Nelson always said that getting the country united behind respecting and protecting Mother Earth would never be easy. There’s been progress, to be sure, but don’t expect the Wisconsin Legislature to be much help,” said Dave Zweifel, editor emeritus of The Cap Times, stated in an editorial for The Cap Times.

Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat, founded Earth Day to raise awareness of the importance of taking care of our planet. The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, named for Gaylord Nelson and Warren Knowles, former governor of Wisconsin and a Republican, honors Wisconsin’s bipartisan commitment to land and water protection. That commitment was not on display during Earth Week.

“They voted against protecting the Wolf River watershed. They voted against permanent public access to the forest. They voted against permanent sustainable forest management. And they voted against conserving an essential block of wildlife habitat that connects the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest to the Oneida County Forest,” said Charles Carlin of Gathering Waters: Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts.

Where we once had a shared commitment to protecting our environment, we now have partisan politics.

Featured image by Ken Mattison, 2016.

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Midwest Environmental Advocates and Clean Wisconsin, both of which filed amicus briefs in the separation of powers lawsuit, praised the court’s decision that a statute allowing the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) to block Knowles-Nelson projects is unconstitutional.

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