March 30, 2023
From the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior to the banks of the Mississippi River, Wisconsin has a wealth of natural resources and a population who prizes them. From hunting and fishing to camping, hiking, and bicycling, Wisconsinites pursue outdoor pastimes at higher than average rates. The state's natural resources are also key to its economy, drawing in visitors and tourism dollars and fueling the forest products and waterborne shipping industries.Yet the state's heritage also faces challenges, from climate change to urbanization, development, invasive species, overcrowding in some parks, and changing patterns in outdoor recreation itself. Historically, the state has responded to threats like these with innovative conservation programs championed by prominent figures such as Aldo Leopold, Gaylord Nelson, and Warren Knowles.In light of these challenges, this report explores new options for funding conservation. The study reviews Wisconsin's natural assets and rich history of outdoor pursuits, the state's current conservation financing mechanisms, and approaches used in other states. Though the revenue streams funding environmental regulation lie largely outside the scope of this report, our findings do have a limited bearing on environmental quality as well.