Looking out over the woods. Parks all over Wisconsin have been conserved using the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

Party-Line Vote Approves $32M Annually For Statewide Public Lands Program

Gov. Evers proposal of $70M a year for 10 years reduced by Legislature's state budget committee.

For Wisconsin Public Radio, Laurel White reports that the Joint Finance Committee’s party-line vote on the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program resulted in renewal of the program for four years, at $32 million per year.

This represents less than half the level of funding and years of extension Governor Evers proposed in his budget.

Supporters of Knowles-Nelson, like state representative Greta Neubauer, D-Racine, had argued that “a longer-term extension would provide more stability and certainty for the program,” especially since some land deals “can take multiple years.”

Supporters also noted that state spending on parks and outdoor facilities has high returns. For example, “a report from the state Department of Tourism released last year found that outdoor recreation contributes $7.8 billion to Wisconsin’s gross domestic product every year,” and that this area of the economy is growing much more rapidly than other industries.

While the Joint Finance Committee was considered the most significant step for Knowles-Nelson in the budget process, the legislature and Governor Evers will also consider the revised budget in the coming weeks.

Featured image by Garrett Peterson with USFWS – Midwest Region, 2018.

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