Wisconsin state budget boosts conservation, water quality

Funding will support wetlands restoration, protection

Public wildlife areas such as Horicon Marsh benefit from conservation opportunities.

Public wildlife areas such as Horicon Marsh benefit from conservation opportunities.

MADISON, Wisconsin – July 8, 2021 – Wisconsin’s Fiscal Years 2022-23 biennial budget, signed today by Governor Tony Evers, will boost conservation, outdoor recreation and water quality for residents across the state.

The budget contains a state waterfowl stamp fee inflation adjustment and the four-year reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. Both budget inclusions came at the request of the conservation community and have been longstanding priorities for Ducks Unlimited.

With final passage of the bill, the state waterfowl stamp fee, which had not been adjusted in 24 years, will increase to $12 to help account for inflation. This is estimated to generate nearly $400,000 of additional funding for Wisconsin wetland conservation work and waterfowl breeding habitat conservation in Canada. These hunter-contributed dollars help leverage additional private investments by nonprofit organizations like Ducks Unlimited as well as federal grant awards such as those secured through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). Ducks Unlimited is joined by the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, Green Bay Duck Hunters Association, Delta Waterfowl, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress in endorsing this fee adjustment.

“One hundred percent of the funds raised from the sale of the state duck stamp are used to improve the habitat that brings waterfowl to our state, and the additional funds raised will mean that those who enjoy our state’s wetlands will have better and more opportunities to do so,” said Nels Swenson, Wisconsin state policy chair for Ducks Unlimited.

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program reauthorization is for four years and will provide $33.25 million per year for the program. For 30 years, Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program has been one of the country’s premier land conservation programs and its accomplishments are immense:

  • $1.3 billion invested in Wisconsin’s land and water resources
  • 650,000 acres conserved
  • 99% of Wisconsinites live within five miles of a Stewardship Project

“Conservation on a landscape scale requires partnerships and numerous funding sources,” said Brian Glenzinski, DU regional biologist. “Private philanthropic investments by our members, state waterfowl stamp dollars, Stewardship Program investments and NAWCA grant awards, combine to allow for numerous wetland restoration projects each year in Wisconsin.”

Over nearly 40 years, Ducks Unlimited in Wisconsin has invested more than $41 million to conserve 140,000 acres across 2,700 project sites. See highlights of our work in 2020.

A robustly funded and authorized Stewardship program is mission critical for Ducks Unlimited and our many conservation partners who help deliver these dollars into the ground for Wisconsin’s wildlife and people. DU commends the Wisconsin legislature and Governor Evers for their strong show of support for these conservation priorities, helping keep Wisconsin a national leader in natural resource conservation.