A non-fiscal item was slipped into the Wisconsin State Budget to modify rules for the Knowles Nelson Stewardship Program to pay for ”motorized stewardship,” including ATV and snowmobile trail development, maintenance, repair, etc. Because this non-fiscal motion was made during the budget process, it did not get the public debate that would normally come with a policy change of this kind. While it is too late to change the rule, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is accepting comments on how to implement the change to the program.
ATVs and Snowmobiles have co-existed on many state trails for decades without the need for this rule change. Furthermore, Snowmobiles and ATVs have well-funded, separate programs to construct and maintain their trails. Many non-motorized trail use groups are concerned that this new rule with not only siphon off money for traditional nature-based uses, but also be used to construct motorized trails that actually degrade the land they run through.
Please send an email to Wisc DNR staff person Catherine Burrow (firstname.lastname@example.org) AND CC YOUR STATE ELECTED OFFICIALS TOO. Time is of the essence. COMMENTS MUST BE RECEIVED BY AUGUST 8. See the letter below for an example of a thoughtful letter that you are free to use as a template or , if it speaks to your sensibilities, just copy it, sign your name to it and send it out.
Below is a sample letter you can use. Feel free to edit it and make it your own.
Dear Ms. Burrow (catherine.burrow@wisconsin.
I am responding to the Proposed Program Guidance relating to the 2013 Motorized Stewardship Grant Funds.
According to your website, “The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is the name for a family of funds supporting natural resource protection and nature-based outdoor recreation in Wisconsin.”
WI-DNR lists the following as eligible projects (in quotes) for Motorized Stewardship Funds:
- Rehabilitation of funded trails
- Major bridge reconstruction/rehabilitation
- New bridges on existing funded trails
- Acquisition of land in fee”
Funded motorized trails, bridges and acquisition of land for ATV and snowmobile use are generally not projects that support natural resource protection and nature-based outdoor recreation.
ATV use is a motorized sport that does not have a nature-based goal for most enthusiasts. For example, in the WI- DNR website for Recreation > ATV/UTV > Where to Ride > Trails, I was re-directed to the WATVA.org website showing several large pictures of ATV trail users riding on ATV’s through wet, muddy trails, wider than legitimate nature-based trail use (not single track), and the ATV use is clearly degrading the trail for any other users and will require maintenance. This is not nature-based recreation. I copied one of the pictures below. If you do not receive the picture below, please go to the Wisconsin ATV Assoc (link through DNR). While this should not occur on public land, it reflects the interest of motorized sport. Motorized trail use is no longer to simply to access hunting land or explore tamarack lowlands.
The Motorized Stewardship portion of the Stewardship grants MUST BE USED ONLY FOR NATURE-BASED RECREATION AND NATURAL RESOURCES PROTECTION. Grants must NOT be used for trail rehabilitation or for bridges designed for ATV or Snowmobile use. Nature-based trail recreation does not require that level of rehab and construction. Such projects decrease the funds available for legitimate projects.
Please amend the eligibility requirements for Motorized Stewardship grants so that the applicants must clearly demonstrate that the funds will be used only for nature-based trail uses or to support natural resources protection.
I can see legal challenges ahead, not to mention violation of common ethics and trust, if the Knowles-NelsonStewardship Funds are not used for the intended purposes.
Your name and address here