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Questions Edming on stewardship fund hold

Vox Pop

Dear Representative Edming, I respectfully request your help. I am simply asking for information.

Recently, the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust applied for state funding to pay part of the purchase price to buy and protect Cedar Gorge Clay Bluffs, 131 acres of land including 3/4-mile of natural Lake Michigan shoreline. The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance denied the application because a single member of the Committee anonymously objected without stating any reason for this objection! Could you please supply me with a copy of the law and/ or rules which authorize the procedure used by the Joint Finance Committee to deny this funding application?

Permit me to tell you why I and other of your constituents consider this to be important: Since 1974, I have worked with the High Point Chapter of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to build it through Taylor County. Due to a lack of funding, we initially were forced to build the Ice Age Trail on land where the landowner consented but where they had the right to revoke permission for the trail. In 2008, such a landowner in the Town of Rib Lake revoked his permission, resulting in the closure of a long stretch of the Ice Age Trail; to this day, this closure necessitates hikers to walk on public highways.

Thank God for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Law, which allows us to apply for cost share monies from the state to buy land and trail easements. The High Point Chapter of the Ice Age Trail consists of unpaid volunteers who invest untold hours to build and maintain the Ice Age Trail. We fear that our funding applications may be anonymously vetoed as it was for Cedar Gorge Clay Bluffs.

I am sending a copy of this letter to The Star News for publication in its Vox Pop section.

P.S. I am happy to report that the Ice Age Trail has earned widespread public support. The Rib Lake Village Board just unanimously voted to make application for the village to be recognized as an Ice Age Trail Community and used its motel tax to pay the $2500 application fee. Hikers on the Ice Age Trail contribute an ever-increasing sum of money as they shop, eat, and stay in the village. The number of Ice Age Trail users has soared during the COVID-19 pandemic as hikers flocked to its safe and scenic route.

— Robert P. Rusch, Rib Lake