Policy and Advocacy
WI Land+Water advocates for locally led conservation and recommends the policy that allows county-based conservation work to get done in Wisconsin. That includes the need to maintain rigorous technical standards for conservation practices so that good work stays in place and isn’t just washed out in the next rain storm. This effort is largely driven by WI Land+Water's Legislative Committee, which consists of multiple Land Conservation Department (LCD) staff, Land Conservation Committee (LCC) supervisors, WI Land+Water staff, and agency partners. The committee promotes the values of local control and flexibility in implementing conservation programs, including regulatory and voluntary approaches.
County-based Land and Water Resource Management Plans provide the foundation for local conservation priorities and the committee supports adequate state funding of those state-approved goals, including the staffing to implement the programs. The committee supports comprehensive county efforts to implement state performance standards and prohibitions, including regulatory efforts. Integration of federal, state and local efforts into a seamless conservation program at the local level is a prime directive. The committee continues to explore and pursue alternative funding sources to bolster county staffing and program implementation efforts statewide, including non-bonding sources.
The committee has recently been successful working both with state legislators and with the state conservation agencies to develop effective laws and administrative rules that advance conservation work across the state. The following are highlights of the most recent year’s efforts:
- State Budget: In the 2013-15 Biennial Budget, $1.8 million for statewide conservation staffing and cost-share grants were recovered from proposed cuts
- State Legislation: In the latest spring legislative session, The Frac Sand bills which would have compromised local control were opposed and did not achieve a floor vote; the Clean Water Fund bill, which was supported and passed could provide significant funding for non-point source controls; the Phosphorus bills were amended and supported, and ultimately passed; and, Groundwater Legislation, which was opposed on principle, never achieved a floor vote.
- State rulemaking/policy: Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) rules on Farmland Preservation and Soil and Water Resource Management were modified based on committee input, as was State Revenue’s TAX 18, which provides fair taxation for wetlands as part of a farm’s “use-value assessment”. The committee was very active in assisting Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in the development of its Adaptive Management/Trading plan for improving water quality in Wisconsin.
- Established better relations and resolution of support from Wisconsin Farm Bureau
- Expanded working relationship with Wisconsin Counties Association