A Democrat thinks a move last week by the Natural Resources Board to sell off 10,000 acres of state land funded by the Stewardship program is not well thought out.
Republicans ordered the move as part of the state budget they passed a year ago. Their goal is to reduce the debt incurred by the purchase of Stewardship lands. It was noted that the ten-thousand acres represent only a small share of the one-point-eight million acres of state-owned nature lands.
The DNR's Doug Haag says under the law, all parcels had to be located outside of project boundaries...
"....our second level criteria...we were really looking for parcels that had limited recreation utility and limited natural resources value from the Department's perspective, meaning it would have to fit into some larger natural resources scheme of the department..."
Haag says the parcels will be offered to adjoining property owners in some cases, others to local governments and tribes. He says a key factor is to not cut off snowmobile and ATV trails by selling the land to a party not interested in those trails. Haag says the remaining parcels will be put on the DNR website for the public to go over.
Democrat Janet Bewley of Ashland says this was the first time Knowles-Nelson Stewardship land has been sold off. Republicans dominating the legislature were concerned about bonding more money for the program. But Bewley says that stance is curious...
"....the Joint Finance Committee cut the amount of money available to the Stewardship Program at the same time overall Wisconsin has depended more on bonding in this budget for other programs than ever before. It's a shame our Stewardship program that has to take it in the teeth...."
The Natural Resources Board approved the sale to be completed by mid-2017. The money gathered by the land sale is to be used to buy down some of the obligations.