Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is Wisconsin's land acquisition account.  Stewardship funds state purchases of land for outdoor recreation and resource protection.  A portion of the program provides grants to local governments and land trusts to help purchase lands and conservation easements.  Since the Stewardship Program was created in 1989, it has helped protect more than 500,000 acres.  Gathering Waters has long been a champion for the Stewardship Program, leading campaigns to prevent funding cuts and see the program reauthorized for a third decade -- through 2020 -- with increased funding available to protect Wisconsin's special places. Photo courtesy of Mississippi Valley Conservancy.

Jul 03, 2013

Final State Budget Retains Stewardship Cuts

The final 2013-2015 Wisconsin state budget leaves most of the legislature's cuts to the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program intact.

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May 31, 2013

There’s still a chance to restore funding to the Stewardship Program

Earlier this week Governor Walker stated in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article that "he disagreed with heavy cuts in a land conservation program (Stewardship) by the Legislature's budget committee and said he hoped all or most of the funding would be restored". Then, this morning the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran an editorial headlined, "Legislature should restore funding for land conservation program." Momentum for the restoration of funding for the Stewardship Program is building, and we need your help to continue to push it forward.

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May 16, 2013

Land trust community disappointed by Joint Finance Committee’s vote to cut Stewardship

Gathering Waters Conservancy is disappointed by the Joint Finance Committee’s decision to cut the Knowles Nelson Stewardship Program by $63.5 million between now and 2020, while limiting flexibility in the program with policy changes. Combined with cuts made in the last state budget, the legislature has now eliminated more than 40% of the funding out of this widely-supported program.

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May 09, 2013

Budget Alert: Stewardship Program funding level to be decided on May 15. ACT NOW!

The Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to debate funding for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program on Wednesday, May 15...they need to hear from YOU now! In the last state budget, the Legislature cut the program by 30%, from $86 million a year down to $60 million a year. The program is authorized through 2020, so this represents a total reduction of $234 million. Unfortunately, some members of the Legislature want to cut even further.

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Mar 28, 2013

Gathering Waters commends Governor for support of Stewardship, but what about the Legislature?

Gathering Waters Conservancy is happy to again commend Governor Walker and DNR Secretary Stepp for continued support of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. The support from the Governor makes it all the more surprising that several members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee earlier this week derided this popular, publicly-supported program.

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Mar 21, 2013

State budget update – Funding source for Stewardship Program receives scrutiny

The next six weeks will be a crucial time for land trust supporters to tell Legislators about the value of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program to communities across Wisconsin. The source of funding for the Stewardship Program – state government bonding – has come under intense scrutiny as the Governor’s executive budget proposes over $1 billion in new borrowing, primarily for highway projects.

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Feb 21, 2013

Governor Walker releases budget proposal—Stewardship would remain funded at $60 million a year

The governor’s state budget proposal was released on February 20th and includes some changes to the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. The big headline for the Stewardship Program is that funding is proposed to remain at $60 million a year, but there are some changes to how the money would be allocated over the next two years.

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Jan 31, 2013

More land along the Sugar River protected and opened to the public

Natural Heritage Land Trust and the Village of Belleville will protect nearly 2,000 feet of forested Sugar River frontage upstream from Lake Belle View Park in the village, according to the NHLT. The purchase is supported by the Knowles Nelson Stewardship Program and the Dane County Conservation Fund.

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Jan 18, 2013

Land purchase opens access to river green space

Working with several partners, the River Revitalization Foundation in Milwaukee has purchased the missing link in a chain of public access to the Milwaukee River.

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May 17, 2012

Stewardship Project Sets State Record

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has announced the largest land conservation purchase in Wisconsin history - a transaction that protects more than 100 square miles of forest land in four northern counties.

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Mar 08, 2012

Senate Votes on AB 311

The Senate voted to approve an amended version of AB 311 (also known as the Sporting Heritage Bill) on Wednesday, March 7. As we’ve reported, this bill had the potential to affect the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, but an amendment approved in the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee, and other amendments previously voted on in the Assembly, significantly improved the bill.

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Feb 29, 2012

Senate Committee Set to Vote on AB 311

The Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee is set to vote on AB 311 (also known as the Sporting Heritage Bill) on Thursday, March 1st. As we’ve reported, this bill has the potential to affect the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

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Dec 08, 2011

Senate Holds Hearing on AB311

The Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee held a public hearing on December 7 to hear comment on AB 311 (also known as the Sporting Heritage Bill). As we’ve reported, this bill has the potential to negatively impact the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

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Dec 05, 2011

Stewardship ALERT:  Senate Hearing on AB 311

The Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee will be holding a public hearing on AB 311 (also known as the Sporting Heritage Bill) on Wednesday, December 7th, at 11:00am. This legislation has the potential to negatively impact the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

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Nov 07, 2011

Assembly Passes AB 311

As expected, the full Assembly passed an amended version of AB 311 (also known as the Sporting Heritage Bill) on Tuesday, November 1st. The Senate companion bill to this legislation, SB 226, has now been referred to the Senate Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources, and we are expecting that this committee will hold a public hearing on the legislation either later this year or early in 2012.

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Oct 24, 2011

Update on AB 311

On Thursday, October 20, the Assembly Natural Resources Committee voted in favor of an amended AB 311 (also known as the Sporting Heritage Bill). Unfortunately, the amended version of the legislation still incorporated changes to the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program that will likely have some negative consequences on the future of the program. However, the final language represents a significant improvement from earlier versions of the bill.

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Oct 13, 2011

Stewardship Program Threatened

The Assembly Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing on October 11 to gather feedback on the "Sporting Heritage Bill" (AB 311). We attended the hearing and testified against the Stewardship-related provisions in the bill, as did representatives from The Nature Conservancy, the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, among others. The message from these groups was clear -- the Stewardship Program already guarantees public access for hunting, trapping, fishing, hiking and cross country skiing with very limited exceptions, and the program should have enough flexibility to protect valuable properties in all corners of the state.

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Oct 07, 2011

Stewardship ALERT

A newly-introduced bill, AB 311, has the potential to negatively impact the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. The Assembly Natural Resources Committee will be holding a public hearing on this bill at 1:00pm on Tuesday, October 11th.

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Oct 05, 2011

Walker Announces Chippewa Flowage Forest Legacy Easement

With the signature of Governor Scott Walker on Tuesday, October 4th, nearly 10,000 acres of forest land near Hayward will now be permanently protected. This significant deal represents the first major Stewardship purchase for the Walker Administration.

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Sep 09, 2011

Stewardship Grants Update

There are several important updates about Stewardship grants for land trusts including: new information about the grant application process, Administrative Rule NR 51, Natural Resources Board review of certain grants, and Joint Finance Committee review of certain grants.

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Aug 12, 2011

NR 51 approved by the Natural Resources Board

A revised version of Administrative Rule NR 51 was approved by the Natural Resources Board at their meeting on August 10th. NR 51 is the section of code that defines the administration and implementation of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship grants process.

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Jul 21, 2011

Stewardship Grants Open

We’re happy to report that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is accepting applications for Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program grants for land trusts. The deadline for the upcoming round of grants is September 6th.

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Jun 30, 2011

Journal Sentinel Article on Stewardship in the State Budget

Paul Smith from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote an article about conservation issues in the state budget. He highlights Stewardship and the reaction of the conservation community, including Gathering Waters.

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Jun 27, 2011

Governor Signs State Budget

The state budget was signed by Governor Walker yesterday, and the final version did not include any partial vetoes related to the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. Therefore, the provisions on Stewardship that passed in the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee will now become law.

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May 27, 2011

Journal Sentinel Editorial: Preserving the Land

On May 26th the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an editorial concerning the Joint Finance Committee’s vote to cut annual borrowing and spending powers in the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program from $86 million to $60 million.

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May 19, 2011

Joint Finance Committee Votes on the Stewardship Program

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee (JFC) voted on the Knowles-NelsonStewardship Program this afternoon. The JFC voted to roll back funding for the program to the previously authorized level of $60 million a year, but also took actions to help ensure the flexibility and local support needed for a successful program, including reinstating aids in lieu of property taxes and the use of conservation easements.

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May 15, 2011

Urgent State Budget Update

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will be considering the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program this week! The coming days will be a crucial time for the land trust community to reach out to legislators on this issue.

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Apr 05, 2011

April 2011:  Stewardship State Budget Update

The State Budget process is beginning in the Legislature, and we wanted to share what we've learned and ways to get involved. The next couple of months will be a critical time period for the future of Stewardship Program.

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Apr 04, 2011

Stewardship Program:  State Budget Analysis

Governor Walker's state budget did not include any cuts to the Stewardship Program, however, there are several policy changes in state budget proposal. Here is our updated analysis of the issues in the state budget proposal related to Stewardship Program.

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Mar 22, 2011

Stewardship Program:  State Budget Update

As you've likely heard, Governor Walker's state budget did not include any cuts to funding for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. While this is a crucial first step towards preserving the program, the state budget process is far from over. There is almost no question that Stewardship will be targeted as the state budget makes its way through the legislative process, and it will be extremely important for our land trust community to stay engaged throughout.

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Mar 03, 2011

March 2011: Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program Update

On March 1st, Governor Walker released his state budget proposal. In his budget, Governor Walker did not propose any cuts to Stewardship Program funding. Under the proposal, Stewardship would remain at $86 million annually through 2020. While Governor Walker's budget maintains current levels of funding, there are several policy changes included in the proposal that may have an impact on the efficiency and the effectiveness of the program.

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Feb 09, 2011

February 2011: Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program Update

In early February the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued a temporary hold on Stewardship grant applications as it reviews its processes and procedures under the new administration.

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Nov 23, 2010

Revisions to NR 51

Proposed changes to the rules for administering Stewardship grants are open for public comment through December 8th. Conservationists have an important opportunity to help keep the Stewardship Program working for Wisconsin communities.

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Sep 18, 2010

Opportunity to Comment on DNR’s Land Acquisition Strategy

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently updating its land acquisition strategy for the period 2010-2019, and is asking for public comments through November 1st. The strategy includes a description of the vision, goals, and objectives that the DNR seeks to accomplish through their land acquisition over the next decade.

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Aug 07, 2010

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Stewardship Program

On July 1st, the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program entered its 3rd decade. Gathering Waters Conservancy and partners -- including all Wisconsin land trusts -- are celebrating this milestone and its significance to the preservation of the health and beauty of Wisconsin. Help us celebrate by promoting Stewardship's value to your communities.

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Jul 01, 2010

Stewardship Access Rule Finalized

The rulemaking process for Administrative Rule NR 52 – also known as the Stewardship public access rule – finally passed its last administrative hurdle in June, and the rule will now take effect August 1st, 2010.

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