December 22, 2014

DNR Secretary will approve controversial grant

State Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp says she will follow a committee’s recommendation in approving a $500,000 grant request.

The half million dollar grant was included in the state budget and is designed to promote hunter education and recruitment efforts. It has been the focus of intense criticism this week because the only applicant, the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation, has no history of providing the services the grant is intended for and several conservation groups believe they were kept in the dark about the grant’s availability. Lawmakers have also criticized the Foundation’s ties to conservative lobbying groups.

In a statement released just hours after Sporting Heritage Grant Committee signed off on the request Thursday, Stepp says a staff review of the Foundation’s application found the group meets the minimum eligibility requirements to receive the grant. Stepp says “as such, I have to award this grant.”

Stepp did indicate that there will be clear and specific language inserted into the grant contract “to ensure that desired outcomes are met in an efficient and transparent manner with ample opportunity for public scrutiny.”