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As I See It

Wisconsin can’t afford Stewardship Program any more

Scott Robert Shaw



It sounds like a good idea, on paper. But a state program in Wisconsin has grown beyond its intended purpose, and is costing taxpayers dearly. Lawmakers approved the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program in 1989. It was designed to preserve valuable natural areas and wildlife habitat, protect water quality and fisheries, and expand opportunities for outdoor recreation. It has done that, but at what cost? In recent years, the program has grown, as has the debt it has incurred. So far, the DNR has bought or protected 1.8 million acres of land, more acreage than the states of Rhode Island or Delaware. Its debt stands at $795 million. At that level, Wisconsin taxpayers are paying over a half million dollars a week in interest on that debt. Since its inception, the fund has cost Wisconsin taxpayers more than $870 million. Now, lawmakers are being asked to extend the program for another ten years. That would cost taxpayers another $533 million. That is money that then could not be used for other purposes, like schools or road repair. Wisconsin values its natural resources, and they deserve to be protected. But it seems this program has outgrown its original scope, and lawmakers need to decide if spending another half billion dollars on protecting the environment is really the best use of our tax dollars.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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1 Comment

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    Paul Brown

    May 2, 2019 at 8:46 am

    Agree pothole filling is not best use of the “windfall”, but how about paying down Wisconsin debt instead of finding more ways to spend. Its only the responsible thing to do.

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