A single Canada goose flies over a wetland in winter.

Stewardship reauthorization, waterfowl stamp increase highlight state budget

The 2021-2023 Wisconsin budget signed by Governor Evers includes a reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program for four years and a price increase for the state waterfowl stamp.

In an article for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, journalist Paul Smith writes in detail about two pro-conservation measures included in the Wisconsin budget, including the reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and a price increase for the state waterfowl stamp.

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, created in 1989 to protect land and water resources in the state, is typically reauthorized in 10-year increments. Governor Evers proposed a $70 million annual renewal for 10 years, which was paired down to $33.2 million for four years.

“While four years is an improvement over the last budget, since 1989, the Stewardship Program has been reauthorized every decade for 10 additional years with broad bipartisan support, providing the fiscal certainty necessary for multi-year conservation land transactions,” said Elizabeth Koehler, Wisconsin director of The Nature Conservancy.

Also included in the 2021-23 state budget: an increase in the price of the Wisconsin waterfowl stamp.  

Several conservation groups have pushed for a price increase of the stamp for more than a decade. Sales of the stamp support land acquisition and rehabilitation of wetland habitats. The price of the stamp was raised from $7 to $12, which will generate about $400,000 of additional funding to support wetlands and waterfowl breeding habitats.

“With duck hunters’ historical commitment to the future of the state’s wetland resources, it’s not surprising that over 90% of them supported reaching deeper into their own pockets,” said Bruce Ross, executive director of the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association. “After a decade of advocating for this increase, we are gratified to have found a governor and legislature willing to work with us to make it a reality.“

A proposal to combat the spread of chronic wasting disease in white-tailed deer was cut from the budget. Governor Evers had proposed funding to provide additional deer carcass dumpsters to collect deer waste, but this measure did not pass.

Featured image by Ralph Earlandson, 2021.

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