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Subject: FW: Stewardship Update
> Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 06:07:54 -0600
>
>
> We were successful. The Legislature has passed the budget and we have been
> told that our proposals for Stewardship have been included. This was a
> combined effort of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, the Hunters Rights
> Coalition, the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, Ray and Sandy Heidl, the
> Wisconsin Conservation Congress and many other sports groups and
> individuals.
>
> The final budget language is still not available. But we have been told that
> the Stewardship Fund has been reauthorized starting in 2010 at $85 million a
> year for ten years, (an $850 million program). The range that was proposed
> in the Legislature was from $25 to $105 million, which formed the basis of
> the final bargaining positions. $85 million was in the range that those of
> us close to the legislative action initially projected. It is possible in
> future years to raise this up. Remember that this amount will not kick in
> for two years. When the Stewardship Fund was reauthorized in 1999, it was
> reauthorized at $47 million, not the current $60 million. It was increased
> by $13 million a year, two years later.
>
> We were also successful in getting in all of the conditions into the
> Stewardship Fund that sportsmen and women were advocating for:
>
> 1. We have been told that the language on public access for hunting and
> other purposes that we drafted was included in the budget. This language
> required that all lands bought in fee with Stewardship dollars, regardless
> if it was bought by the state, local units of government or nonprofits must
> be open for public hunting, fishing and other purposes unless it was
> necessary to restrict access for public safety purposes or to protect unique
> ecological values. As far as land purchased as easements, the Natural
> Resources Board was directed to adopt rules on public access. By far the
> greatest percentage of Stewardship dollars are spent on fee title lands
> versus easements. We recognized that there are certain easements such as
> trout stream access easements and easements for scenic vistas for which it
> was counterproductive to insist on hunting access.
>
> 2. The Legislature required that on an annual basis, that 80% of the funds
> needed to be spent on parcels larger than 10 acres. This was for the purpose
> of assuring that the program would get the biggest bang for the buck and
> that there would be a focus on larger parcels which would be more useable
> for hunting and other purposes.
>
> 3. The Legislature authorized DNR to contract with outside groups such as
> nonprofits including hunting and fishing groups and land trusts and private
> companies to help manage the public lands that they are buying. This was to
> get at the issue of habitat degradation, invasive species, unmaintained
> roads and parking areas, fences, land trespasses, etc. that sportsmen and
> women have been very concerned about. $200,000 in new money was authorized
> for DNR to get started with this effort.
>
> This non-license dollar assistance in land management is a major goal of
> hunting, fishing and trapping groups. We can work in the next budget to get
> this increased with more such alternative funding when DNR is likely to come
> in with a needed license fee increase. We are far more likely to get
> alternative funding if we specifically focus on the need such as land
> management and then focus on reasonable chunks of additional alternative
> funding to accomplish it. We can build on the $200,000 that we got this
> time.
>
> 4. The Legislature insisted on more legislative oversight on land purchases
> and auditing of the program. I have not heard what the new threshold amount
> is for legislative review of individual purchases. There was no way that
> this $850 million program was going to get reauthorized without restored
> legislative oversight.
>
>
> This Stewardship reauthorization was a great victory for the sportsmen and
> women in this state. Thank your local legislators that listened to us and
> supported our proposals, some of them took a great deal of heat for
> supporting what we were asking for especially hunting and fishing access.
>
> Thank you for all of your grass roots efforts to make this happen. You all
> did a good thing for your children and grandchildren and the future of
> hunting, fishing and trapping in Wisconsin.
>
> George Meyer
> Executive Director
> Wisconsin Wildlife Federation
 
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