The Stewardship Program: Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the money come from to pay for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program?
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 Program, as well as benefiting from its impacts.

How can we afford the Stewardship Program?
At ½ of one percent of the overall state budget, the Stewardship Program is a great value for Wisconsin. It costs each Wisconsin resident less per year than a fishing license or a state park sticker. The investment represented by Stewardship strengthens our $14 billion tourism economy and our forest products industry.

What does the Stewardship Program pay for?
The Stewardship Program 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 Program?
The Stewardship Program is used by the Department of Natural Resources to acquire land and develop outdoor recreation facilities for the state. The Program 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 $150 million to match grants through the Stewardship Program.

Who benefits from the Stewardship Program?
Everyone who enjoys spending time outdoors in Wisconsin benefits from the Stewardship Program. Stewardship provides special places to hike, watch birds and other wildlife, fish and paddle. In addition, more than 96% of all lands protected with the Stewardship Program are open for hunting. The 85% of Wisconsinites who enjoy walking in nature have local opportunities to do so, thanks to the Stewardship Program’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 Program 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 Program on the Wisconsin DNR web site.


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