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Votes show hunters and tree-huggers agree on Knowles-Nelson

Your Community Foundation doesn’t often proactively reach out to express its opinion to legislators. We have federally imposed rules as a nonprofit entity. Last summer we saw an issue of high importance and about which we have a great story to share. 

When state legislators started talking about ending the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, we knew our story could make a difference to showcase the program’s benefits for  outdoor family activities throughout our region and state. The David and Rita Nelson Family Heritage Bridge, forming a bicycle and pedestrian connection between Little Chute and Kaukauna, benefitted from support from these Stewardship funds.

The conversion of a railroad bridge to a recreation trail at Lawe Street near the Lawrence University campus in Appleton happened, after almost not happening, thanks to Knowles-Nelson.  It is a program that provides real quality of life benefits, and we view it as an allied partner in improving opportunities in our region. We shared those stories to help our representatives put a face on the program and its benefits. We are grateful they listened and supported its continuation. 

If you want to see the list of trails, parks and ball fields in your community that got a boost from Knowles-Nelson, go to and check the map. The information on the web pages is expertly assembled by Gathering Waters, an umbrella organization for Wisconsin land trusts. That is the effort we have supported with our grant money and our voices. The effort succeeded in extending the grant program for recreation areas for another four years. 

In addition to trails and playgrounds, Knowles-Nelson supports hunting and fishing areas. 

Dave Horst

That’s the key to the extraordinary gift we can celebrate this Earth Day. The Wisconsin Conservation Congress at its spring hearings voted on a resolution to support continued funding of Knowles-Nelson. The resolution passed in every one of the 47 counties in which it was introduced. The winning margins were substantial. 

The Conservation Congress meetings generally are assemblages of older hunters and fishermen very serious about protecting their right to hunt. They usually get media attention for things like voting to hunt crows or sandhill cranes. Theirs are only advisory votes, so the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board usually sorts out the other stuff.  

They spoke loudly and clearly on Knowles-Nelson. 

Happy Earth Day.  


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