Habitat & Conservation  |  07/10/2024

Conservation Funding Protected in Wisconsin


Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program plays a critical role for habitat and public access

A recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decision has helped re-focus attention on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program which plays a critical role for habitat and public access through land acquisition and conservation throughout The Badger State. Since 1989, the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program has been leveraged by non-profit organizations and local units of government who care about Wisconsin’s bountiful natural resources by investing over $1.2 billion dollars in the state. 

Pheasants Forever has proudly partnered with the Stewardship Program and initiated many projects to restore and conserve habitat while increasing public access opportunities for citizens to enjoy the land and waters of Wisconsin. You can learn even more about the Program at https://knowlesnelson.org/.

As the Stewardship Program continues forward in Wisconsin, it is important to stay engaged and informed on how Knowles-Nelson helps enhance the quality of life across the state. A few recent highlights of Pheasant Forever-led projects via the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program include:

  • Pheasants Forever acquired 714 acres of Wildlife Management Area in Rock County, the second largest land acquisition project completed by Pheasants Forever in Wisconsin. Officially dedicated as the H&L Farms Wildlife Management Area. The area is managed by Pheasants Forever and open to public hunting and outdoor recreation.
  • Pheasants Forever, led by the Chippewa Valley Chapter of Pheasants Forever,  acquired 182 acres of the McCann Creek Conservation Area to designate as a Build a Wildlife Area project that now provides public access and upland habitat immediately adjacent to the McCann Creek Fishery Area. 

Pheasants Forever will continue the work on the ground across Wisconsin to ensure wise and strategic stewardship of upland and wetland habitat. Since 1999, PF has been awarded over 25 Stewardship Program grants that have opened more than 5500 acres of public access. Furthermore, we take pride in cultivating meaningful partnerships between our local chapters, conservation organizations, and Wisconsin’s rural communities to make conservation projects come to life.  

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program has enhanced more than 650,000 acres of public lands, trail development, new boating facilities, campgrounds, and more to support Wisconsin’s rich outdoor history and wildlife resources in all 72 counties. The Stewardship Program also upholds Wisconsin’s strong outdoor recreation industry which contributes $7.8 billion to the state’s GDP, including 93,000 jobs and $3.9 million in annual salaries. 

Additionally, public lands, wildlife, and outdoor recreation define the culture of The Badger State – polling shows that 93 percent of Wisconsinites support dedicated land and water conservation funding to protect our state’s lands, waters, and wildlife. 

Pheasants Forever urges it members and followers to keep this vital program in mind over the summer and fall while enjoying recreation time in your favorite natural areas – keep an eye out for the Stewardship sign recognizing the contributions this program has made. Pheasants Forever will continue working behind the scenes to ensure the stewardship of Wisconsin’s outdoor heritage!

This blog was authored by Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Suzanne Anglewicz, manager of government affairs, and Marty Moses, Wisconsin state coordinator. For more information about the positive impacts of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program or to learn more about The Habitat Organization in Wisconsin, reach out at sanglewicz@pheasantsforever.org or mmoses@pheasantsforever.org.