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Wisconsin

The Stewardship Fund: Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the money come from to pay for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund?
Stewardship is funded through state-issued bonds. The state sells bonds to investors then pays back the debt over the next 20 years. This spreads the cost over time so it is shared with future users of public lands. Debt payments come out of tax revenues, so all taxpayers in the state are contributing to the Stewardship Fund, as well as benefiting from its impacts.

How can we afford the Stewardship Fund?
At ½ of one percent of the overall state budget, the Stewardship Fund is a great value for Wisconsin. For the same amount of money it will cost to rehabilitate Interstate 94 between Mitchell Airport south of Milwaukee and the Illinois state line, we are able to permanently protect 30,000 acres of conservation and recreation lands. The investment represented by Stewardship strengthens our $12 billion tourism economy and our forest products industry.

What does the Stewardship Fund pay for?
The Stewardship Fund is used to buy state and local parkland, wildlife habitat and hunting areas, trails for biking, snowmobiling, hiking, skiing, horseback riding, habitat for endangered species, and working forests. It also provides funding for acquiring easements to eliminate non-point source run-off into our waters, stream bank easements for stabilization and trout habitat enhancements, as well as urban green spaces and parks.

Who uses the Stewardship Fund?
The Stewardship Fund is used by the Department of Natural Resources to acquire land and develop outdoor recreation facilities for the state. The Fund offers grants to local units of government for parkland acquisition, recreational facilities, urban rivers and urban forests and acquiring development rights on farmland buffering public land. Grants are also available to non-profit land conservation organizations to purchase land and conservation easements that protect wildlife habitat, water quality, working forests, and some of Wisconsin’s most outstanding natural lands and waters. Together, land trusts and local governments have raised $135 million to match grants through the Stewardship program.

Who benefits from the Stewardship Fund?
Everyone who enjoys spending time outdoors in Wisconsin benefits from the Stewardship Fund. Stewardship provides special places to hike, watch birds and other wildlife, fish and paddle. In addition, more than 92% of all lands protected with Stewardship Funds are open for hunting. The 85% of Wisconsinites who enjoy walking in nature have local opportunities to do so, thanks to the Stewardship Fund’s impact in communities across the state. You can find a map of the places in Wisconsin that have been protected with assistance from the Stewardship Fund here.

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.

You can learn more about the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund on the Wisconsin DNR web site.

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