Written by Gathering Waters: Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts.
Earth Day is April 22, 2023.
Last month, the Wisconsin Policy Forum released an in-depth report on the importance of natural resources in Wisconsin and the state of conservation funding.
Dive in and read the full report.
Here are some key takeaways:
- Outdoor recreation is a big deal, adding $8.71 billion in value to Wisconsin’s economy in 2021 and supporting more than 89,000 jobs.
- Forestry is also a big deal. The state’s timber industry is second in the nation for total employment, supporting more than 61,000 jobs and $6.9 billion in economic activity.
However, state funding for the outdoors has declined significantly. The numbers say it all:
- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources saw the money it receives from state revenue decline more than 68% since 1995.
- Spending through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is at a two-decade low, down 88% since 2007.
Clearly, policy makers have work to do. The solutions do not have to be complicated. This could be as simple as allocating some of the state’s record surplus to conservation, redirecting existing revenues, or creating new tax incentives.
Gathering Waters is a grant recipient of the David. L. & Rita E. Nelson Family Fund at the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. This funding support enabled Gathering Waters to partner with the Wisconsin Policy Forum on this report.