Friday, June 8, 2007

Stewardship Funding Advancing: Excellent News

Gov. Jim Doyle's strategy to place long-term financing into the state budget for an expansion of the popular Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund that acquires public lands passed the Joint Committee on Finance today.

Details below from the Journal Sentinel's newswatch blog.

Most interesting tidbit therein: State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), cast a crucial supporting vote with the Democrats on the committee.

You think she isn't hearing the challenging footsteps of State. Rep. Sheldon Wasserman (D-Milwaukee)?

Story text:

FRIDAY, June 8, 2007, 12:17 p.m.By Patrick Marley and Stacy Forster
Expansion of stewardship program advances

Madison - The Legislature's budget committee today let stand an expansion of a popular state land purchase program that will cost taxpayers an estimated $1.6 billion over 10 years.Gov. Jim Doyle has called for an expansion of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund program because values for forest and recreation land are rising fast and because timber companies are putting large tracts of land on the market.

The program, in place since 1990, is set to expire in 2010 unless reauthorized.

Republicans on the committee said lawmakers should wait before reauthorizing the program because of questions about the ability to pay for it.

Their move to hold off on reauthorization was defeated 9-7, with Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) joining Democrats."Let's take a time out here, take a look back and see where we're at," said Rep. Dan Meyer (R-Eagle River).

He said the state has to balance buying land with other duties, such as fighting invasive species, the emerald ash borer and a new fish virus that has cropped up.

He also said the state can't properly manage the 1.4 million acres it already owns."Why don't we take care of the natural resources we have, rather than purchasing more and more land?" he asked.

But Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) said legislators should expand the program in honor of former U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day.

The stewardship program has helped protect over 477,000 acres in the last 17 years.The plan would increase the size of the program by 75%, from $60 million a year to $105 million a year, starting in 2011.

With principal and interest, the program would cost $1.6 billion over 10 years.


Dave said...

It would be interesting to use some of this money to buy a growth boundary around Milwaukee to discourage sprawl.

James Rowen said...

The record will show that over the years, development has been allowed even on areas designated as environmental corridors by the regional planning commission (SEWRPC).

If not for heroic efforts by a citizens group to save the Kettle Moraine, it would all be gone.