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Natural Resources Board okays sale of 10,000 acres of nature land

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - A state panel took a major step Wednesday toward scaling back Wisconsin's Stewardship program, which preserves nature and recreation lands.

At a meeting in Milwaukee, the Natural Resources Board approved the sale of 10,000 acres of public nature lands, to be completed by mid-2017.

Republicans ordered the move as part of the state budget they passed a year ago. Their goal is to reduce the debt incurred by the purchase of Stewardship lands.

It was noted that the 10,000 acres represent only a small share of the 1.8 million acres of state-owned nature lands.

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said the 25-year-old program has "done wonders" for the state's natural resources -- and the new measures are designed to ensure continued new recreation opportunities throughout the state.

Republicans say the program's debt has spun out of control. Democrats fear the cuts will reduce recreational opportunities.

Environmental groups lament that nature has become polarized, like much of Wisconsin politics.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)