Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program Seeks Funding For Further Conservation Efforts, Just Because It’s Free Doesn’t Mean You Need It

Air Date:
Heard On The Morning Show
Joshua Mayer (CC-BY-SA)

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program established in 1989 in order to preserve and conserve Wisconsin’s natural areas and wildlife habitats is requesting a 10-year funding renewal. We learn more about what the program does for the state and what could be at stake. We also learn why freebie items– pens, notebooks, T-shirts — are weighing down our homes.

Featured in this Show

  • We're Drowning In Free Stuff

    Pens, water bottles, tote bags, t-shirts – companies seem to always be handing out promotional items and “freebies,” in an attempt to build brand recognition and win our business. Often, we gladly accept these items…even if we don’t need them…and they build up over time in our homes. A professional organizer says we’re drowning in free stuff, and it’s time to reevaluate our relationship with these items, in order to live a more organized life.

  • DNR Requests Funding Renewal Of Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program

    The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is requesting funding renewal for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program which is set to expire in 2020.

    The program, created in 1989, is funded on a 10-year cycle and has worked to preserve valuable natural areas, wildlife habitat, water quality and outdoor recreation around the state.

    Nearly 500,000 acres of land are protected under the program, through funding to the DNR, local governments and communities and nonprofit conservation organizations like land trusts.

    And that protection casts a wide net, said Mike Carlson, executive director of Gathering Waters: Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts.

    “It’s been an incredibly successful program, but I think it’s also really been able to address a number of different priorities throughout the state,” he said. “In northern Wisconsin you might have … 50,000-acre plus forests that are being protected, versus maybe a few acres in an urban area like Madison or Milwaukee.”

    While the program has seen cuts in recent budgets, Carlson said, it’s funding remains at about $33 million a year and he’s confident it will continue to be funded.

    When it was first created the program protected about 675,000 acres and in 2010 funding was cut from $86 million a year, down to $60 million, then to its current level of $33 million.

    “For us it’s, you know, let’s look at the future, let’s look at what additional investments can we make to really bolster things like our state’s $18 billion recreation industry and support our state’s $24 billion forestry industry,” he said.

    Named after two Wisconsin governors — Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat, and Warren Knowles, a Republican — the program has a legacy of bipartisan support, Carlson said.

    “If the governor and Legislature … don’t act to continue the program, it’s at risk of expiring during the next state biennial budget,” he said. However, there have been champions of the program across the political spectrum.

    In 2015, Gov. Scott Walker proposed freezing funding for the program until 2028 in his budget, yet that fell through after there was bipartisan support to come to a compromise, something Carlson thinks will continue moving forward.

    “I think you know a lot of folks get the value of these kinds of investments,” Carlson said.

    In any given year, Wisconsin residents pay less than a state park sticker or a fishing license to fund the program, he said.

    “This program really directly supports our state’s economy,” he said. “So in that way it’s an investment that has a return to it.”

  • Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program Funding

    The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources requested a 10-year funding renewal for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. We look at the history of the program and what could happen if it isn’t funded.

Episode Credits

  • John Munson Host
  • Chris Malina Producer
  • Colleen Leahy Producer
  • Nicole Anzia Guest
  • Mike Carlson Guest