Conservation organizations have agreed on clarifications to the rules governing public access to state Stewardship lands. Reauthorization of the Stewardship Fund has been a political issue as some lawmakers charged an attempt to exclude hunters and anglers. Michael Strigel with Gathering Waters Conservancy says that’s never been the case. “Depending on how you count it . . . anywhere between and eighty and upwards of ninety five percent of Stewardship lands are open for hunting, fishing and trapping,” says Strigel.
The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy, the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, and the Hunters Rights Coalition joined the Gathering Waters Conservancy in helping put together the modified rules, which were unanimously approved by the state Senate’s Environmental Committee this week. “It’s a statement by all the groups involved and by the committee that this, we believe, is the best solution,” says Strigel.
The groups are encouraging the Legislature, the DNR and Natural Resources Board to adopt the modified rules. This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Stewardship Program. Beginning this year, the Stewardship Fund will provide $86 million for purchase of lands to preserved.