Draft Conservation Report Available For Comment

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A major draft report released today by the Department of Natural Resources for public comment identifies 228 places critical toward meeting Wisconsin's conservation and recreation needs over the next 50 years. Comments are being accepted through January 24.

The report, requested by the Natural Resources Board in April 1999 was developed over the last three years with several rounds of public and DNR staff input. It identifies places that cover a range of habitats, including prairies, forests and wetlands. These places vary in size, harbor both common and rare species, and offer outdoor recreation, conservation and environmental values of varying significance. The report does not draw boundaries around any of the places, does not identify current ownership and does not identify how or when these places should be protected or who should help protect them.

"The Land Legacy Report is a comprehensive look at important lands and waters in Wisconsin," says DNR Secretary Darrell Bazzell. "The report is intended to help citizens and organizations decide locally and statewide how they can protect and maintain these special places over the long-term."

Examples of Legacy Places are the St. Louis Estuary, Lower Rock River, the Blue Hills in Rusk and Barron Counties, and the Mid-Kettle Moraine. Some Legacy Places have already been the focus of considerable protection efforts, while others have not.

The DNR will use the report to help community residents identify opportunities for protecting Legacy Places, as well as determine where the agency can take the lead to protect some of these places.

"This report does not represent an expanded land acquisition program for the DNR, nor does the report represent a request for more funding," Bazzell said. "But the report will help the department work with the Natural Resources Board and citizens to identify opportunities to help protect and maintain some of these important places that make Wisconsin 'Wisconsin.'"

As Wisconsin's population grows, more homes, businesses and infrastructure such as roads, utilities and landfills will be needed, Bazzell said, but so will places for people to enjoy the outdoors and places that protect sources of drinking water and native plant and animal habitats. Protecting Legacy Places will also help support important natural resource-based activities, such as tourism, recreation and forestry.

"The Legacy Report can give us all some guidance on what places help us meet those goals," he said.

The department is seeking public comment on the draft report through January 24, 2003. A public comment form is included with the report in all formats. The form can be downloaded from the Land Legacy page of the DNR Web site.

The 230-page, large-format (11-by-17 inches) draft Land Legacy Report is available from the department for public review in two formats: Compact disks and black-and-white hard copies. Portions of the report are also available on the DNR Web site. Here's how to request a copy of the report:

  • Write to: Land Legacy Report, LF/4, DNR, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921
  • Call: (608) 266-0823 or (608) 266-2135
  • E-mail: [email protected]

The department will share public feedback on the report with the Natural Resources Board, request board approval of the report with changes as needed, and seek board direction on developing a strategy for implementing the report, Bazzell said.