Speak Out

The time is NOW to extend funding for land and water conservation in the Driftless Area, as budget debates begin.

Here's some exciting news! Governor Evers has released his state budget proposal and it includes a 10-year reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, funded at $70 million per year.

This robust proposal is a clear indication of the governor's commitment to protecting Wisconsin's land and water. A 10-year renewal of the Stewardship Program would provide land trusts and local governments with the certainty they need to execute strategic and targeted conservation projects, which often require years of planning. And $70 million per year would more than double the program's current funding, getting Wisconsin closer to the $86 million mark that we used to commit to Knowles-Nelson more than a decade ago.

What happens next?

The governor's proposal is just the start of the debate. In the weeks ahead, the legislature–beginning with the powerful Joint Committee on Finance–will write and pass their own version of the budget. Starting today, we need to let legislators know that renewing the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is a top priority and that the governor's proposal is the kind of robust, long-term funding that we want to see included in the final state budget.

The legislative process will take awhile, but we need lawmakers to hear early and often from their local constituents.

 
 

What can you do to help?

Email your legislators and the governor in support of Knowles-Nelson. We've made it easy, so it only takes a few seconds to send a thank you note to Governor Evers and to encourage your state legislators to be Knowles-Nelson champions.

Create a personalized Knowles-Nelson postcard (if you haven't already done so). With a photo and a short message, share your personal story with your elected officials. Let them know why protecting Wisconsin's land and water is important to you. (If you've already filled out a postcard, thank you! No need to do it again.)

 

Background

Knowles-Nelson is for Wisconsin's water, wildlife, and our way of life.

Knowles-Nelson provides funds for cities, counties, non-profit groups, and the state to purchase land for conservation. It funds essential upkeep and maintenance of our waterways, parks, forests, and trail systems. Dozens of Conservancy projects, including the La Crosse Blufflands, Kickapoo Caverns, and New Amsterdam Grasslands, to name just a few, would not be possible without the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. The Ice Age Trail across Wisconsin, snowmobile and ATV trails up north, and boat launches on our lakes and rivers all benefit from Knowles-Nelson funding. County forests remain working forests open to recreation because of Knowles-Nelson grants. Local governments and citizen conservation organizations also receive funds to purchase land for conservation. Knowles-Nelson has funded projects in every single county in Wisconsin. If there's a natural place in Wisconsin that is special to you, chances are Knowles-Nelson has made it better.

Knowles-Nelson is bi-partisanship at its best.

Clean water, habitat for wildlife, and the land to support Wisconsin's way of life is something we can all agree on.

Named after two former Wisconsin governors--Warren Knowles, a Republican, and Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat--the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program honors Wisconsin's historic commitment to land and water protection.

Since its inception in 1989, Republicans and Democrats across the state have championed the program because our land, water, and wildlife don't have political affiliations. We all want Wisconsin to be a healthy, thriving place to live, work, and play. We believe that strengthening the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is an opportunity for citizens and lawmakers across the state to work together.

Key Facts

  • The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program (KNSP) is Wisconsin’s best way to support land and water conservation. KNSP provides funds for land acquisition, trail development, campgrounds, boat launches, and more.
  • A 10-year authorization of KNSP will provide the long-term certainty that nonprofits and local governments need in order to plan and carry out environmental conservation projects.
  • We’re proud of the work the KNSP has made possible, but there’s a lot left to be done. Wisconsin protects a smaller portion of our land than either Michigan or Minnesota, and we invest less money each year in our public lands. We can build on our strong tradition of conservation and do more for Wisconsin’s land and water.
  • Since the program’s inception in 1989, Wisconsin has permanently protected more than 650,000 acres.
  • The state has invested $1.2 billion in the KNSP over 30 years. This is a significant investment, and KNSP lands provide a more than $2 billion value every year. KNSP lands filter water and air, sequester carbon, mitigate floods, provide wildlife habitat, and offer countless opportunities for recreation.
  • More than 40 non-profit land trusts protect more than 180,000 acres, and KNSP funding is vital to their work.
  • Stewardship protects land close to home. Nearly everyone in Wisconsin lives within five miles of a KNSP investment. Hundreds of grants have provided funds to improve the parks, trails, and waterways in the communities where we live.