Issue Position: Fighting for Wisconsin Families - Protecting the Environment
From the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest to the many miles of coastal waters along Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, Wisconsin is blessed with some of the country's most beautiful natural resources. But we can't take them for granted. Wisconsin is a great place to live and work and we owe it to future generations to keep it that way.
That's why I've worked hard in the Senate to advance many environmental initiatives that would benefit Wisconsin. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, which has jurisdiction over conservation programs, I have a strong commitment to securing funding that will help protect our state's precious natural resources.
For example, I have been able to secure $7.5 million in federal funding to help accelerate the development of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. This trail is one of eight National Scenic Trails located throughout the United States. It meanders through 31 Wisconsin counties and gives visitors a chance to see some of Wisconsin at its best. But rapid development and escalating land prices could prevent establishment of quality trail in many parts of the state if we don't act soon. Until now, funding to acquire lands for the trail has come only from the state, counties and private funds. When complete, this 1,200 mile footpath will explore some of the world's finest examples of glacial features.
I've also fought to strengthen the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) during my time in the Senate. The CRP is a voluntary environmental program that benefits farmers and land conservation throughout Wisconsin, and it has helped preserve thousands of acres of land across the state and millions of acres across the country. Run by the Farm Service Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the CRP rents land from farmers and restores it to its natural condition. All over the state, this effective program has helped preserve the magnificence of Wisconsin's native landscape. Although some in the Senate have tried to scale back the CRP and it was scheduled to run out of funding, I've introduced and Congress passed legislation that has helped continue this successful program.
I've also supported continuation of the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) through the Agriculture Appropriations Committee. The WRP, which has become increasingly popular in Wisconsin, is a voluntary program that pays farmers to restore and preserve wetlands on their farms. Wisconsin is one of the original pilot states for the WRP, which has now been expanded to include farmers in other states as well. Although, like the CRP, this program has been slated for cutbacks and was scheduled to run out, I have fought successfully to make sure this program continues with the funding it needs to ensure wetland preservation in our state. Additionally, I have cosponsored a series of bills -- the "Great Lakes Initiative" -- that would help protect the Great Lakes from oil and gas pollution, invasive species, water pollution and water diversions.
Along with these efforts to preserve our natural resources, I will continue to support efforts to protect our air and water quality by strengthening the historic Clean Air and Clean Water laws.