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.