Stewardship’s Broad Support

People across Wisconsin have made it clear...they care about the places that make Wisconsin special.

Stewardship Has Broad Non-partisan Support

Wisconsinites recognize the key role the Stewardship Program has played and will continue to play in the long-term protection of Wisconsin’s special places.  45 individual non-profit organizations and over 400 local units of government have received matching grants from the Stewardship Program demonstrating the widespread public support for land conservation and the urgent need for recreational land in the state.

The Stewardship Program is funded by tax revenues from all of Wisconsin’s taxpayers, and provides benefits back to every community in the state, from Milwaukee urban trails to Northwoods working forests.  Independent public opinion polling has consistently shown strong support for acquiring conservation lands among Republicans and Democrats, city dwellers and rural residents, business leaders and students.

According to a 2007 bipartisan poll:

  • More than three in five voters backed a proposal to increase the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program to $105 million per year and renew it for another decade.
  • 89 percent agreed that Wisconsin should find the money to invest in protecting its land, water and wildlife even in times when the state budget is tight.
  • Over 90 percent of voters agreed that protecting land and water quality is critical to Wisconsin’s economy and that having undeveloped open spaces and natural areas improves the quality of life in the state.
  • Majorities from every area of the state and of almost every major demographic group – men and women, rural dwellers and urbanites, hunters and non-hunters, young and old, Republicans and Democrats—supported renewing and increasing the Stewardship Program in the 2008 state budget.

We also know that the 85% of Wisconsinites who enjoy walking in nature have local opportunities to do so, thanks to the Stewardship Program.  All Wisconsin citizens enjoy the ecological benefits of protected land and water, including clean drinking water, scenic vistas along our roads and a high quality of life that attracts and retains businesses.

Stewardship Provides Recreational Opportunities for all Wisconsinites

Over its 20-year history, the Stewardship Program has provided unprecedented increases in public access across the state and has protected over 520,000 acres of land, 92% open to hunting and an even higher percentage open to fishing

Stewardship dollars have been used in every county.  If you've enjoyed any of the places listed below, or many, many others, you've enjoyed Stewardship's lasting benefits:

  • Urban green space like Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee
  • The Great River Trail along the Mississippi
  • The Hank Aaron Trail in Milwaukee
  • Tthe Green Circle Trail in Stevens Point
  • The Ice Age Trail
  • The Turtle-Flambeau and Willow Flowages in Northern Wisconsin;
  • Straight Lake State Park in Polk County
  • Tommy Thompson State Park in Marinette County
  • Wildlife areas at the Dells, Jefferson Marsh, Yellowstone Lake & the Wolf River.

The Stewardship Program has forever preserved lands for hiking, bird watching, hunting, snowmobiling, biking, fishing and paddling.  Over 92% of all lands protected with Stewardship funds are open to hunting and 96% are open to fishing and other passive uses. 

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is the State of Wisconsin’s most effective tool for providing high quality public access for the wide range of outdoor recreational demands in Wisconsin.  As of 2008, the Stewardship Program had protected over 477,000 acres through state acquisition, partnerships with non-profit organizations and local units of government, and through the purchase of conservation easements.  Stewardship has provided increased public access to Wisconsin’s citizens for all the ways Wisconsinites relax and recreate outdoors.


photo courtesy of Nathan Mugan

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