Audubon Great Lakes Celebrates Funding for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program

Four-Year Renewal of Stewardship Program will continue to protect Wisconsin’s natural spaces and the birds that depend on them

WISCONSIN (July 9, 2021) – Wisconsin birds can rest and “nest” easier for four more years. Earlier this month, the Wisconsin legislature's Joint Committee on Finance voted to reauthorize the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program for four years at $32 million dollars per year. That became official when Governor Evers signed the state budget yesterday.

Since 1989, the Stewardship Program has worked to preserve the natural areas and wildlife habitat that birds need in Wisconsin – including more than 370,000 acres in or near Important Bird Areas, high-priority conservation sites that provide essential bird habitat.

“A reauthorization of The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program builds on 30 years of success that has funded the protection of Wisconsin’s forests, prairies and wetlands for the benefit of birds, other wildlife and people across the state,” said Marnie Urso, Senior Policy Director for Audubon Great Lakes. “While a four-year extension falls short of the 10-year reauthorization we had hoped for, it is still a win for Wisconsin birds. It will ensure that vital conservation work can continue while we work towards a longer-term solution for Wisconsin land and water protection.”

Audubon Great Lakes is grateful to the hundreds of Audubon members across Wisconsin who spoke up for Knowles-Nelson. Together, they sent more than 600 individual letters to their state lawmakers on the importance of land and water conservation to Wisconsin’s birds

As Wisconsin’s best source of funding for land and water conservation, Knowles-Nelson grants have benefitted every single county in Wisconsin, providing funds to improve the parks, trails, and waterways that cross Wisconsin’s communities.

Thirty years ago, Madison Audubon Society received the first ever non-profit Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant to acquire and restore habitat at Goose Pond Sanctuary, an Important Bird Area where more than 51 species of birds nest. Thanks to this restoration work, threatened bird species like the Northern Harrier and Eastern Meadowlark now visit the sanctuary in bigger numbers.

Hundreds of migratory bird species rely on Wisconsin’s natural spaces to rest on their long journeys and to breed and raise their young. Reauthorization of Knowles-Nelson will ensure four more years of preservation of wildlife habitat including wetlands that birds like the Common Tern rely on, and the rivers and lakes that birds like the American White Pelican and Common Loon need.

About Audubon Great Lakes
Audubon Great Lakes is a regional office of Audubon, learn more at and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive.

TO REQUEST AN INTERVIEW: Emily Osborne,, 414-841-5273

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