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Lawmakers Scrap Walker Plan To Give Kickapoo Valley Oversight To DNR

Proposal Drew Outrage From Current Managers And Local Residents

Maureen McCollum/WPR 

The Kickapoo Valley Reserve will remain part of the Department of Tourism, after the Joint Finance Committee, Wednesday, rejected Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to shift it to the Department of Natural Resources.

JFC members unanimously agreed to eliminate the proposal from the state budget. Moving the Kickapoo Valley Reserve to DNR control outraged many area residents, who were concerned about how the DNR would manage the land.

The natural area in southwest Wisconsin has a contentious history, after years of federal land grabs displaced landowners. It’s now owned by the state and the Ho-Chunk Nation and managed by a citizen board.

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Marcy West, the Reserve’s executive director, said, “They had so many years of turmoil and now they’re seeing the progress that’s been made. So I think for future generations I think it’s a good thing to keep this independent board, local control, and the decisions open to the citizens input.”

The Kickapoo Reserve Management Board will now be able to make its own budget requests and will no longer have to go get approval through the Department of Tourism.