In 1989, the Wisconsin Legislature created the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, to be administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The program facilitates the preservation of valuable natural areas and wildlife habitat, protection of water quality and fisheries, and expansion of opportunities for outdoor recreation. To do this, they provide grants for land acquisition and property development.
If you have been to either of our sanctuaries, you'll see the Stewardship Program at work. Madison Audubon Society received the first ever Stewardship grant for a nonprofit conservation organization for a land purchase at Goose Pond Sanctuary. Since then, the Stewardship program has been vital to completing many other acquisition projects that have contributed to the size, diversity, and beauty of our sanctuaries and now provide habitat for wildlife, recreation opportunities for citizens, and educational resources for local kids.
The Program is at risk now, due to proposed changes that severely limit the types of land proposed for Stewardship Program funding - and severely limiting Madison Audubon's ability to acquire land that will ultimately benefit Wisconsin's birds. Madison Audubon has submitted a formal letter to the Stewardship Program coordinator urging reconsideration of the proposed changes.
You can help prevent damaging changes to the Stewardship Program from happening too. The DNR is now soliciting public input on revisions to ranking/scoring criteria for nonprofit Stewardship grant proposals. Draft revisions, explanations of the goals of the revisions, and how to submit your comments are on the DNR's program guidance web page. You can also send thoughts on the proposed changes to members of the DNR Natural Resource's Board. Addresses for the members are available in our letter or online here.
Comments are being accepted through March 3. Make your voice heard!