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Advocates Fighting To Keep State Environmental Protection Funding

Cuts To County-Level Dollars Would Hamper Enforcement, Conservationists Say

Michael Leland/WPR

Conservationists are pushing to see funding restored for land and water conservation at the county level under the governor’s budget proposal.

Jim Vandenbrook is the executive director of the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association. He said counties received $816,000 in each year of the last biennial budget to help offset cuts, but that was a one-time deal.

Vandenbrook said he wants that money and more restored in the upcoming budget.

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“We’ve got wells contaminated by manure applications,” said Vandenbrook. “There’s a lot more liquid manure being spread.”

The number of reported manure spills doubled from 33 in 2012 to 66 last year, according to Department of Natural Resources numbers. Jason Lowery with the Wisconsin DNR said the increase in spills is due to a rise in the number of dairy cows statewide and better reporting of spills.

Ashland County officials said they may have to look to grants to maintain staff. Otherwise, they said, it would be more difficult for counties to enforce state standards.