The Wisconsin you love is defined by its land – all of those beautiful lakes, meandering rivers, rolling hills, thick forests, colorful prairies, and rocky Great Lakes shorelines. That land brings forth Wisconsin’s abundance of flora and fauna – and generates a large portion of the state’s $19 billion dollar tourism industry.
Governor Walker, however, cares little about the 3 million Wisconsinites who hunt and fish for recreation or subsistence. Walker has limited access to state parks, sold off public lands, and signed mining legislation that has scarred some of the state’s most beautiful places and threatens to pour toxic acid pollution into our rivers and drinking water sources. Under Walker, none of Wisconsin’s special places are safe.
1. Walker promoted and signed the Open Pit Mining Bill
Governor Walker’s signing of the Open-Pit Mining Bill (2013 Act 1) was a defining moment in his term as governor. The Open Pit Mining Bill opened the door to iron mining that could endanger human health, irrevocably scar the beautiful Penokee Hills, and contaminate waterways and Lake Superior. It was arguably one of the worst environmental bills in Wisconsin’s history, opening the door to legislation written to benefit one industry or company. With Walker’s signature, it became the law of the land.
2. Walker attempted to undermine the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program
The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is a successful public-private partnership that has protected 675,000 acres since 1990. Its goal is to “preserve valuable natural areas and wildlife habitat, protect water quality and fisheries, and expand opportunities for outdoor recreation.” In his 2015 state budget, Walker proposed a moratorium on new land purchases until 2028. His budget directive would have redirected funds meant to protect Wisconsin’s land into a slush fund for unrelated programs and endangered the state’s most critical lands by removing protections. The Joint Finance Committee restored the program, but further reduced its funding to $33.5 million, down from a high of $86 million.
3. Walker underfunded state parks, then hiked fees
Walker has increased fees for state parks and zeroed out state funding for them, a model that has failed in other states. Wisconsin State Parks are often the first place people experience the outdoors, and act as economic engines that bring in tourism dollars. Walker’s 2015 budget resulted in a $1.4 million deficit for the state parks. He then hiked fees in his next budget. Wisconsin now has the highest fees for daily state parks admissions in the Midwest. The financial burden to access the state’s most beautiful places has a ripple effect that targets lower income families and makes the outdoors inaccessible for many Wisconsinites.
To be continued…
There’s so much more to learn about the damage Walker has done to Wisconsin. Every two weeks – until Wisconsin has a new governor – new items will be added to the Walker’s Wisconsin pages. Sign up for emails to get a heads up when we do. Check out more of Walker’s Wisconsin!