Representing Wisconsin State Assembly District 93 Like many other people in western Wisconsin, I cherish every opportunity I can to get out and explore our area's amazing natural landscape. This …
Representing Wisconsin State Assembly District 93
Like many other people in western Wisconsin, I cherish every opportunity I can to get out and explore our area's amazing natural landscape. This includes going for a stroll down the Great River Trail or kayaking in the Chippewa River. State parks have also been one of my favorite destinations for outdoor recreation. From gorgeous greenery to crystal clear water to the wide array of wildlife – state parks are full of natural beauty with plenty of room for exploring and learning about nature.
Over the past year, more people have gotten out to enjoy the great outdoors, with attendance increasing 11 percent from 2019 to 2020. To ensure that Wisconsinites can continue to enjoy the activities and scenery provided by state parks throughout Wisconsin, in the most recent budget, I strongly advocated for and passed a provision to extend the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program for four more years and provide $33.25 million in funding each year. This program helps preserve natural areas and wildlife habitats, protects water quality and ensures that Wisconsinites have plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. This program recently was used to add nearly 1,000 acres to the Tyrone area, including 18,000 feet of shoreline along the Chippewa River.
Also in this budget, I ran the charge to secure stewardship funds in the state budget to leverage $19 million in federal funds for the restoration and improvement of Lake Pepin along the Mississippi River. This extremely important program for not only our area and Bay City, but for the Mississippi River, will improve water clarity, create additional fish and wildlife habitats, and restore public boat access to Upper Lake Pepin.
But it is also important that any stewardship purchases do not negatively impact any of our local municipalities. That is why I supported a provision in the budget that tripled the state's reimbursement to municipalities under the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program to offset the municipality's loss of revenue from the department-owned land.
In addition to funding nature and wildlife preservation through the stewardship program, the budget invested $1.5 million per year in the State Park Development Fund, which allows parks to complete small-scale projects, such as improving trails and buying picnic tables, to ensure that the park can continue to accommodate a large volume of visitors. These small-scale projects play an incredibly important role and funding for these projects is essential to ensure that visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience.
This is only a part of how the budget continues to preserve our ability to observe and explore Wisconsin's beautiful waters, nature, and wildlife. As a legislature, we recognized the growing need for investments in Wisconsin's natural beauty and Wisconsinites' growing love for appreciating and exploring state park destinations to ensure that all Wisconsinites are provided with the opportunity to have a wonderful visit at these state treasures!