Stewardship Land Access in Peril! Please Act Quickly.

Discussion in 'Frontpage News' started by Water_Dog, Jun 3, 2009.

  1. Stewardship Land Access in Peril!
    This is not a Chicken Little statement. Some of you know how hard we worked for 2 years for hunting, fishing, and trapping access as part of renewal of the Stewardship Program, which benefits everyone. In a last minute, dark of night effort the Joint Finance Committee swept all that work away, as well as your right to access lands that are purchased with your dollars. I am posting below a statement and call to action from Jeff Nania, Executive Director of WWA. It explains the situation and what you MUST do to help, very clearly.

    Wisconsin Waterfowl Association
    Stewardship Press Release - June 2, 2009

    I wish I could say that I am surprised. In an early morning raid on the hunting, fishing and trapping community, in the most blatant attempt yet to limit uses and access to land purchased with public funds, Representative Mark Pocan (D-Madison) and Senator Mark Miller (D-Monona) under Assembly Bill 75, Motion #754 item 18 put the following amendment forward:

    18. Stewardship Public Access Requirements-Nondepartmental Land

    "Repeal the requirement that any person receiving a stewardship grant to acquire land in fee simple, or acquire land by easement or other conveyance that was withdrawn from the
    managed forest law program, must permit public access to the land for hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, cross-country skiing, and other nature-based outdoor recreation, unless the Natural Resources board determines that a closure is necessary to: (a) protect public safety; (b) protect a unique plant or animal; or (c) to accommodate usership patterns, as defined by administrative rule. (Stewardship lands purchased by DNR would remain subject to the public access requirements. Stewardship grants may only be used to purchase or develop lands for nature based-outdoor recreation. "Nature based outdoor recreation" has been defined in administrative rule to mean activities where the primary focus or purpose is the appreciation or enjoyment of nature. These activities may include but are not limited to hiking, bicycling, wildlife, or nature observation, camping, nature study, fishing hunting and mult-use trail activities.)"

    Just two years ago the broad conservation community came together in support of the reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, it was reauthorized at 86 million dollars per year making it the largest land acquisition program in Wisconsin history. There were concerns at the time that some of this land purchased with public funds primarily by some land trusts and local units of government were closed to hunting, fishing and trapping. Both Democrats and Republicans felt that public access was important enough that they included language in the law that protected public access. The Governor agreed and signed it. We all agreed to enter into a work group to develop guidance that would be used to write rules that would become law as to when and under what conditions public access could be denied to a publicly financed property. Myself, and many others worked diligently and productively towards this goal over the last several months. Thousands of man and woman hours went into this process, all thrown away by this amendment, without debate or public input.

    During that time the group discussed many issues and, I thought, resolved them. For example, hunting is by all accounts safe; much, much safer than many outdoor pursuits like biking or hiking. There is no documentation whatsoever that shows there have been any significant number of user conflicts between hunters, anglers and trappers and others on multi-use properties. We learned that the statement "97% of all stewardship land was open to hunting" did not reflect the real picture. Many properties were open for hunting during a day or two of the deer season and closed to everything else the rest of the year. So people agreed that the existing statutory language on hunting was what we would use. Not one member of that committee came up with any information to support that hunting, fishing and trapping were any kind of problem at all. Most people at that table worked honestly and productively.

    However, there are a handful of people that want to see public taxpayer dollars buy lands in our State and then close them to hunting, fishing and trapping. For no other reason than a personal bias. A bias they are only able to support with stories of imaginary dangers and conflicts. It has nothing to do with fact or what is good for the land, wildlife, and citizens of our state. Not little pieces of property but huge tracts: thousands and thousands of acres. Lands that have been long a part of our rich outdoor traditions, now lost to us.

    This whole situation is absolutely rife with interest conflicts and inside deals. That I guess we have come to expect. People that supported this amendment are all downplaying it saying that it means nothing,but then you have to ask yourself: why put it in?

    Make no mistake this amendment means a lot.

    If you care at all about the future of our hunting, fishing or trapping traditions you must do a couple of things. First take some personal responsibility for the future. Don't wait for someone else to do it. Find out who your legislators are and call them, email them or write them and tell them they must rescind this amendment and return to the existing law.
    Get the name of who you are talking to and call them back in a week to see what they have done. Call the highest-ranking staff or volunteer member of any organization you belong to that is a beneficiary of the generosity of hunters, anglers or trappers and tell them to get involved now. Call them back in a week to see what they have done.

    Your other option is to sit on your butt and do nothing. If you do, you will have the distinct privilege of knowing that you were part of the erosion of the future of our traditions.

    You can easily find your legislators at: www.legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/waml/waml.aspx

    Jeff Nania
    Executive Director
    Wisconsin Waterfowl Association
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2015
  2. Guys you need to make the calls and e-mails now! The vote on this will likely come on Wednesday for this. If you don't know it HSUS now has an office and Lobbyist in Madison and you can bet that they put money in the right places to get this in the budget bill. This is just a start for them and we can not sit idle or we will lose big time.
     

  3. Thanks to anyone that made calls or sent e-mails. I found out that the Assembly Democrats pulled it from the budget in caucus last night. Battle won so far but we'll have to keep a close eye on the war.