It’s going to take a thousand puzzle pieces coming together to get a 10-year reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program across the finish line, i.e. included in the 2021-23 Wisconsin State Budget. As an Outagamie County Supervisor and Chairperson of the Outagamie County Greenway Committee, I helped cut the edges of one such puzzle piece.

You, too, can help add a piece of support for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, and thereby continue its success in helping to pay for bike trails, key land conservation properties, pedestrian/bicycle bridges, park enhancements, and many other nature-based projects. Check out this interactive map! to see grants awarded in your county or legislative district. Be sure to click on the pins because they each represent many projects and will show details about the grant awards. 

On Tuesday, the Outagamie County Board unanimously approved Resolution No.: 110—–2020-21, which supports the reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program for ten years and consideration of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) budget request of $50 million per year. The final paragraph of the resolution directs the Outagamie County Clerk to forward a copy of this resolution to: “… all Outagamie County Municipalities, all Wisconsin Counties … distribution to the Legislature and the Governor.” 

This resolution gets a copy of the Outagamie County Resolution to Wisconsin’s other 71 counties. What would be great is if other counties adopted a similar resolution. But, they need a champion to see it through the county process. 

Perhaps you could be that champion in your county. How? Ask your county representative or chair of your parks committee what you could do to help a similar resolution get passed in your county. Time is of the essence because it takes a month or two to get a resolution through the committee process, approved by the board, and forwarded to state lawmakers. The legislature will start review of the Governor’s budget in February for adoption of a final budget by June. 

What was very helpful in the effort in Outagamie County was that Charles Carlin, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Gathering Waters, organized an email drive that resulted in over 30 people voicing their support for Outagamie County’s resolution to our county supervisors. Gathering Waters helps to coordinate Team Knowles-Nelson, a coalition of scores of organizations and thousands of individuals committed to renewing and strengthening the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. Contact Charles Carlin, charles@gatheringwaters.org, for help to coordinate your local efforts. I am happy to share links, maps and details from Charles that I found very helpful. Positive public participation can impact a vote! 

The work of Knowles-Nelson is not done. We have fragmented trails across this state. We’ve lost over 50% of our original wetlands. We need to protect sensitive water filtering lands and more of the biodiverse beautiful places which remain. Knowles-Nelson can help preserve, protect, and enhance many public resources throughout Wisconsin for the benefit of all. Please add your puzzle piece of support now so that our state lawmakers can see a full picture of the Knowles-Nelson vision and include a 10-year reauthorization in the 2021-2023 Wisconsin State Budget.