On Wednesday, August 30, the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters organized a visit to Speaker Paul Ryan’s Janesville office. Composed of concerned citizens and other conservation leaders, the group delivered petition signatures and encouraged the influential Wisconsin lawmaker to lead the way in protecting our shared lands.
America’s public lands are under attack in the Republican 2016 party platform, which both starves these lands of funds to sustain them and includes an amendment calling on Congress to give federal lands to the states. This land giveaway to the states is the first step in what will be huge land sell-offs – most states don’t have the budget or infrastructure to maintain these spaces, and faced with fiscal disaster, states will be forced to sell our public lands to the highest bidder.
This would certainly be the fate of Wisconsin’s public lands – over the past six years, our public lands budget has already been slashed to a small percentage of what it was throughout the first decade of this century, and the state passed a measure requiring the DNR to sell at least 10,000 acres of public land before 2017.
This agenda is controversial with members of both parties. Our beautiful public lands, including national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges and others are owned by the American people and need to stay owned by the American people.
Among the group was Nancy Hanson Bennett, a Wisconsinite who is very concerned about the GOP’s 2016 party platform calling for the massive land giveway. “Public lands are for everyone. We have them now to enjoy, but we need to have them for the future. For not only our children and grandchildren, but their grandchildren.”
Public lands serve multiple purposes in Wisconsin, not just for people to enjoy, but Wisconsin’s public lands have a great history for sportsmen too. Michael Spors, national conservation director, Whitetails Unlimited, a national non-profit deer organization said, “As a hunting organization we want to make sure there is access for hunters who don’t own their own property, or have access to private property, their only option is to hunt public lands.”
Leading the charge on this conversation in Wisconsin is the League of Conservation Voters (LCV). Earlier this summer at a press conference, communications director of LCV Ryan Billingham said, “We’re calling on Congressional officials of both parties to speak out against this public lands agenda. Wisconsin can no longer stay silent.”