Conservation Congress in proposed budget at risk ??
The overall investment in Stewardship over 3 decades from 1990-2020 would be less than Governor Walker is proposing for transportation funding over the next 2 years.
This is the problem, the debt spending needs to be brought under control. If the debt spending is brought to a manageable level even more land can be bought. Sending large amounts of money on interest payments takes away from what could be spent on land purchases.
If the debt was cut in half that would free up over 41.5 million dollars a year for land purchases. That's a lot of land!
Nobody likes cuts or moratoriums but some make sense when they are made when you break them down.
The conservation work has touched every corner of the state, but it has come with a hefty price tag. The cost of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund has mushroomed since 1990, with total spending at $641.8 million.
Wisconsin taxpayers are spending $1.6 million a week to pay the debt service, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
"It's time that we start paying down our debt," said Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst), a member of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. "It's a good time to take a timeout."
With Walker's proposed spending freeze casting a big chill over the program, a coalition of environmental and sporting groups has begun lobbying against the cuts.
His proposal would stop land acquisitions until 2028 — the target when borrowing costs would fall from $84 million a year to $54 million, according to the DNR.
The freeze would halt all land transactions — from massive deals that can sprawl for 100 square miles to smaller buys, where the DNR shares costs with local land trusts.
The hallmark of stewardship: Public access is assured and land is protected forever.
In Milwaukee, program spending has included$5 million to finance the start-up of Lakeshore State Park next to the Summerfest grounds and $4 million for the Hank Aaron State Trail in the Menomonee Valley.
Since 1990, local units of government and nonprofits in Waukesha County have received $20.8 million under stewardship; in Ozaukee County, $12.7 million; in Washington County, $11.7 million; in Milwaukee County, $7.9 million; and in Racine County, $7.2 million, Legislative Fiscal Bureau documents show.
"The moratorium will be devastating to land conservation in Wisconsin," said Mike Carlson, external relations director for Gathering Waters Conservancy, a statewide organization that advises local land trusts.
Despite decades of acquisitions, Carlson said Wisconsin ranks behind Michigan and Minnesota in state land holdings. Wisconsin's 4% in DNR-held land compares with 12% in Michigan and 11% in Minnesota, figures from the three states show.
He also said the freeze ignores the economic boost that public land and stewardship-funded improvements give communities.
A 2008 study by Madison-based Northstar Economics Inc. for Trout Unlimited found that $1 spent repairing stream banks — an expense the program helps pay for — returned $24.50 to communities in the Driftless region of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.
Walker's plans face some objections in his own party, including from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester.)
Rep. Al Ott (R-Forest Junction), chairman of the Assembly Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage Committee, also opposes a
Traxx actually said something worth looking into for small tracts of land. The state might want to sell small pieces to private land trusts that protect land. Land trusts have been used to protect the KK river in the north west part of the state.
I fish in an area where there was a resort on the edge of a mandated wilderness area and the Feds wanted to keep that resort from using motorboats in the canoe wilderness. So when the property came up for sale the Feds helped arrange the sale to a conservancy,which in turn found a private buyer who would operate the resort without the motor boats. This was all deeded and made legally binding. You can get creative.