LETTER: Protecting public lands importantState Rep. Erik Severson’s comments on state land ownership deserve close attention by anyone who enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking or camping on public land in Wisconsin. Severson is reported to have said that the state’s ownership of 2 million acres of land is “unnecessary” and too costly to properly manage.
To the Editor:
State Rep. Erik Severson’s comments on state land ownership deserve close attention by anyone who enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking or camping on public land in Wisconsin. Severson is reported to have said that the state’s ownership of 2 million acres of land is “unnecessary” and too costly to properly manage.
First, some perspective on the issue: Wisconsin consists of approximately 34.8 million acres of land. Of that, state-owned land makes up 4.6 percent, or about 1.6 million acres. One thing that’s important to understand is that, when the Department of Natural Resources acquires public land, it makes payments to local units of government in lieu of property taxes, so they shouldn’t experience any decrease in tax revenue.
Obviously there are expenses associated with the state’s ownership of forest and park lands. But there are also untold benefits, as even the Wisconsin Realtors Association agrees: “While the value of conservation programs are often questioned ... public land provides valuable tourism dollars and other quality of life benefits to the state. Each year, nearly 14 million people visit state parks, forests and trails, generating millions of dollars for local businesses and state and local tax revenues. Moreover, employers often market our parks and recreational spaces when trying to attract new employees to Wisconsin.”
There is good reason for concern that part of the Republican agenda includes a selling off of public lands and subsequent privatization of many outdoor activities, including deer hunting. Scott Walker’s appointment of the controversial Texan Dr. James Kroll as Wisconsin’s “deer czar” gives Kroll considerable power over the state’s deer management program. Kroll is an outspoken proponent of game farms, and an opponent of public lands and public game management, which he is on record as describing as “the last bastion of Communism.”
If elected to the Assembly, I will work to protect Wisconsin’s hunting traditions, including the preservation of public hunting lands for all to use and enjoy.
28th District Assembly