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Walker Suspends Knowles-Nelson Spending

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced recently that the state will cease spending of Knowles-Nelson Stewardship funds for the remainder of the fiscal year.

The fund has been used to purchase land for preservation and recreation in Wisconsin since 1989. In Door County, the funds have been used to match fundraising to purchase lands by the Door County Land Trust, the Nature Conservancy, and municipalities for a large range of purposes. The Village of Sister Bay received $551,000 in stewardship funds in December to support its Waterfront Park project.

Some of the projects made possible by the Stewardship Fund in Door County include additions to the Mink River Estuary, Bayshore Bluff Headlands and the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal properties.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported Feb. 8 that spending will be suspended through June, then significantly curtailed in the future. Projects supported by grants from the fund have been lauded by representatives on both sides of the political aisle, but the state has been criticized by some for buying more land when it can’t fund the staff to support the lands it already owns.

The fund is generated by bonds that the state issues. Last year the state budgeted $86 million for the fund. The fund has helped the state and non-profits purchase over 600,000 acres for public access since 1989.