BY MIKE MCFADZEN
Friends of Wisconsin parks endorses new tick legislation
The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks (FWSP) announced support for a package of bills that promote awareness and prevention of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.
The bills were introduced by Sen. Rob Cowles (Republican – Green Bay) and Rep. Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz).
“State Park properties host millions of guests annually who have a chance of encountering ticks,” an FWSP statement said. “Because of this public safety health concern of Lyme disease being transmitted by these vectors, an official statewide program to promote awareness and prevention of Lyme disease shows responsibility and makes good sense. This package won’t eliminate Lyme disease but will help raise awareness on preventative measures to take.”
Read more about ticks and tick-related diseases in this issue of Silent Sports.
National Park System struggles to maintain services
While national parks have seen a 19 percent visitation increase over the last five years, the park system has seen an 11 percent reduction in staff and other cost-cutting measures during that period. Underfunding, staff shortages and an $11 billion repair backlog compound the problem. Park supporters are further irked by the Trump administration diverting $2.5 million in national park fee revenue to pay for a July 4military parade at the National Mall. The loss of desperately needed money comes at a time when parks are already facing a financial shortfall and influx of visitors.
The National Parks Conservation Association (NCPA) president Theresa Pierno recently released a statement:
“Fee dollars are meant to protect our parks irreplaceable resources and enhance visitors’ experiences, not fund a Presidential stunt. The Park Service is already operating on a shoestring budget, and park staff has come to heavily rely on visitor fee dollars to fund law enforcement personnel, create educational programs for visitors and address the nearly $12 billion in needed repairs for crumbling park buildings, trails and roads.”
The Trump administration proposed a further 13 percent national parks budget cut in 2017, but Congress wouldn’t enact it.
There are 61 national parks including the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone and Zion. Visitation is expected to be close to 100 million in 2019. The Midwest features several national parks and lakeshores, including Isle Royale, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Indiana Dunes, Pictured Rocks and the Apostle Islands. If you haven’t visited these Midwestern gems, get them on your bucket list. Find out how to support our national parks at the NCPA website (npca.org/).
Wisconsin budget signed into law
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed the 2020-21 biennial budget into law with 78 line-item vetoes.
Evers considered vetoing the complete Republican-controlled budget but decided against it.
“It would have been more of the same divisiveness and petty, political theatrics that the people of Wisconsin have had to put up with,” said Evers.
Included in the budget are middle-class tax cuts, increased education and water quality funding and transportation improvements.
Evers received criticism from both conservatives and liberals, which likely means it was a reasonable compromise. Items affecting outdoor recreation and natural resources were a net positive. Key budget items include:
- Creates a new office of Outdoor Recreation at the Department of Tourism, which will enhance the state’s outdoor economy by promoting outdoor activities and building partnerships with outdoor-related businesses. This will help congeal support for outdoor recreation.
- Extends the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program at $33 million annually. This program funds a variety of outdoor-related projects
- Enhanced DNR staffing by providing two additional scientists to research water and sources of contamination. Many science and outdoor education positions were cut during the Walker administration.
- $230 million for workers who provide direct care to family care, nursing homes and personal care services.
- Increases in veterans, schools, rural and mental health services
- Commits over $1 billion in bonding authority to modernize aging University of Wisconsin buildings and improve learning environments
- Increases transportation funding, including some aspects of non-motorized projects
Wisconsin’s Governor has among the most extensive veto powers in the country. The line-item veto rules allow the Governor to strike out words, eliminate entire sections of the budget and individual digits, including dollar amounts.
Wisconsin’s last Governor (Scott Walker) averaged 77 line-item vetoes per budget.