Wisconsin State Director Elizabeth Koehler leads a team of professional and volunteer conservation scientists, practitioners, fundraisers, policy experts and advocates working to protect land and water through targeted action and productive partnerships. A lifelong lover of Wisconsin, Elizabeth joined The Nature Conservancy in 2000 as a member of the philanthropy team and served most recently as deputy state director.
Working closely with colleagues, volunteer leaders and donors, Elizabeth has helped raise more than $90 million for conservation priorities in Wisconsin and around the world. She participated in the teams that protected St. Martin Island in Lake Michigan and launched an initiative for Sheboygan River water quality through farmer collaboration. She partners with the Wisconsin Board of Trustees to shape and implement multi-year conservation plans and to build strength through diversity across every level of the organization. Elizabeth co-led the effort to create a new 3-year strategic plan (2020-2023) for TNC in Wisconsin that will guide the chapter’s efforts to partner with others in tackling the most urgent conservation challenges facing people and nature.
Elizabeth received a B.S. in Communication and B.A in English Literature from Miami University in Ohio. She enjoys trail running and swimming in Wisconsin’s wild places, climbing at Devil’s Lake State Park, cycling the Driftless Area, travel, theater, and music with her husband, David, and friends and family.
A Statement about the Great American Outdoors Act
July 23, 2020
A historic bill to protect nature while boosting our economy and preserving vital recreation and tourism opportunities has just passed Congress in both the House and the Senate. The Great American Outdoors Act fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for the first time in its history while also restoring national parks by helping address the backlog of maintenance and staffing needs.
The Senate passed the bill 73 to 25 in June and now, with the House’s vote of support, it goes to President Trump who has indicated he will sign it. On behalf of The Nature Conservancy, I want to thank our Wisconsin Congressional and Senate representatives for their historic vote: Senator Tammy Baldwin, and Representatives Mike Gallagher, Ron Kind, Gwen Moore, and Mark Pocan.
The Great American Outdoors Act combines two previous bills that each have strong bipartisan support from more than half of Congress. The first provides full and permanent funding of $900 million each year for LWCF, the amount it is authorized to receive from offshore oil and gas revenues – not tax dollars.
The second bill, the Restore Our Parks Act, invests $1.9 billion annually for the next five years in deferred maintenance for lands managed by the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education.
I’ve had the chance to visit many of the incredible public lands and waters in Wisconsin that LWCF has been instrumental in protecting, from the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Devil’s Lake State Park to the Ice Age Trail and the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. These places represent the heart and soul of our state, and they exist in large part thanks to LWCF.
LWCF also funds programs that protect working forests like the Wild Rivers Legacy Forest, 59,000 acres in northeast Wisconsin protected for wildlife, public recreation, and sustainable timber harvests. These grants provide cost-share funding that supports timber sector jobs and sustainable forest operations while enhancing wildlife habitat, water quality, and recreation. This has been a win for nature and for the economy and provides a good model for how we can find even more ways to build a greener and truly sustainable future.
Passing the Great American Outdoors Act is not only good for the care and conservation of Wisconsin’s public lands, it’s a boost to our state’s economy. The outdoor recreation economy in Wisconsin alone is responsible for $17.9 billion annually in consumer spending and 168,000 jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. Implementing LWCF in Wisconsin helps boost the economy, create jobs, and increase tourism at a time when economic recovery will be paramount.
Most Americans believe in this idea—that a portion of our nation’s wealth should be used to invest in protecting special places. We put this idea to the test with a bipartisan poll and found that, nationwide and right here in Wisconsin, a large majority of people across the political and demographic spectrums support LWCF.
As a child growing up in Ohio, my family spent many summers in Wisconsin’s Northwoods. I’m grateful for those times together in that magical place and for all the many other ways Wisconsin’s natural places continue to enrich my life and the lives of so many, especially at this uncertain time.
Thank you to each and every one of you who spoke up to support passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. I look forward to the President signing this bill and to the long-awaited, full implementation of the program. It’s a crucial win for our public lands and the preservation of our natural legacy for current and future generations.
Keeping it Green (BRAVA Magazine)
Inspired by childhood memories in Wisconsin’s Northwoods to join The Nature Conservancy, Elizabeth Koehler takes the helm to guide TNC’s work in Wisconsin. Read More