Your voice is URGENTLY needed to prevent Wisconsin’s State Legislature from undermining the protection of lands funded by the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund. This action would put many of your favorite nature preserves in a perilous state.
In a recent hearing, the State Senate was presented with Senate Bill 802 which would allow for the sale of lands acquired with Knowles-Nelson dollars provided the grant money and accrued interest are returned to the state.
The good news that we shared yesterday about the Dell Creek property we just purchased is an excellent example of the faith that landowners put in us and the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program to ensure that land purchased with Knowles-Nelson funding will never be developed. Although we can’t imagine a turn of events in which Groundswell would ever sell land for development, the changes being proposed to the Stewardship Program would allow us to do just that. The 40 acres we bought yesterday was part of a farmer’s 160-acre farm. We believe that he wouldn’t have sold his land to us if he suspected that we might be able to turn around and sell it to a developer.
Gathering Waters, Wisconsin’s alliance for land trusts, has met with several Senate offices to discuss our concerns. They emphasized that the bill, as written, would create perverse incentives to sell conservation lands in response to short term changes in the politics of local governments and fluctuations in the real estate market. They also made it clear that the bill would NOT, in fact, create a pathway to take lands out of the county forest program (the original impetus for the bill).
While they had what felt like constructive conversations with the Senate offices, they have received no assurances that they are willing to make substantive changes to the bill.
The Knowles-Nelson land sale bill has now been introduced in the Assembly as AB 852.
The language is identical to the Senate bill. The Assembly Committee on Forestry, Parks and Outdoor Recreation will hold a hearing on the bill on Wednesday, February 2 at 10:00 AM (417 North, GAR Hall).
Speak out before February 2.
Email your legislators and the Assembly Forestry Committee members to voice your opposition, using the easy letter-writing tools from Gathering Waters. The take-action page has been updated to send messages to the Assembly Committee. Please take action here even if you already emailed the Senate committee.