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Protecting Wisconsin's Heritage Public Lands

Conservation groups are trying to make sure public lands in Wisconsin and other states stay public, and are not sold off or privatized. (Clean Wisconsin)
Conservation groups are trying to make sure public lands in Wisconsin and other states stay public, and are not sold off or privatized. (Clean Wisconsin)
September 9, 2016

MADISON, Wis. – Dozens of groups around the nation representing sportsmen, wildlife, and environmental activists want the candidates for president and state officials to commit to protecting federal lands for future generations.

George Meyer, former Wisconsin DNR Secretary and now executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, said Wisconsin's vast public lands are a critical part of the heritage of the state. He said protecting those lands and keeping them public must be a top priority.

"They're used by hundreds of thousands of people in this state every year," he said. "To lose these lands or have access reduced by sale or transfer of those lands would be a serious loss to the citizens of this state and also, really, to the tourism economy."

The lands were set aside by Republicans and Democrats many years ago, and Meyer said such lands are the envy of other states and must be protected from those who would sell them off for some shortsighted gain.

Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said these public lands all over the nation are the birthright of all Americans. He believes not enough people are aware of recent attempts to privatize or sell off these lands.

"The biggest threat in some ways is just kind of public apathy," he said. "If folks don't realize there is this legislative attempt by the more ideological extreme to try and take these lands away, then those efforts become more likely to succeed if folks aren't rising up."

Meyer decried legislative attempts to sell off Wisconsin's great state parks and public lands, and thinks people all across America should oppose any such efforts. He pointed out that untold thousands of Wisconsin sportsmen travel out of state to hunt, fish and enjoy the use of federal lands.

"Tens of thousands of other Wisconsinites that use those lands for camping, wildlife watching; just to expose their children to the great natural heritage of our public lands in this country," he added.

More than 80 percent of respondents to a recent survey agree, and say it's important to keep these lands open to the general public.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI