State Budget—A Few Wins for the Environment
This year the biennial budget process, as usual, contained innumerable controversial anti-conservation issues. Diverse conservation allies joined together in promoting good conservation measures and opposing those that would have compromised our state’s natural resources. Here is an abbreviated list of some key wins for the environment that were passed into law with our new state budget for 2001-2003.
- Stewardship Fund—increased to $60 million/year (from current $46 million/year). This important fund is use for acquisition of sensitive conservation lands throughout the state.
- DNR Kept Intact—several legislators, led by Rep. John Gard (R-Peshtigo), tried repeatedly this year to divide our Department of Natural Resources into several agencies. This division would have diminished the agency’s regulatory and management effectiveness and efficiency. Rep. Gard’s proposed Department of Forestry was vetoed by the Governor and the DNR remains intact.
- Wildlife & Fisheries—DNR wildlife and fisheries staff was increased by 6 technician and biologist positions.
- Invasive Species—$300,000/year budgeted to support invasive species control programs, including the Purple Loosestrife bio-control program.
- Recycling—increased recycling tipping fees from $.30 to $3.00 per ton and retained DNR staff positions.
- Wetland Mitigation—a partial win, the budget creates 2.5 staff positions for administering new mitigation rules. The DNR had originally requested 12 new positions.