UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News) State D-N-R Secretary Cathy Stepp has given her final approval to a controversial grant to encourage more Wisconsinites to go hunting-and-fishing. Stepp had the final say on the matter, after the Sporting Heritage Committee voted 4-to-1 earlier in the day to give the two-year, $500,000 grant to the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation.
The panel heard a lot of testimony about the grant, almost all of it in opposition to the award. Critics said the group has no experience in training sportsmen, and its members had political ties to majority Republicans at the State Capitol.
The G-O-P inserted the grant in the new state budget but did not allow several conservation groups to apply for the money. Others said they would have been interested in seeking the grant had they knew it was available.
Stepp said the budget measure gave the D-N-R no choice in approving the grant. But she promised quote, “ample opportunity for public scrutiny” as the funding and promotional work are carried out. The United Sportsmen were given $200,000 for this year, $300,000 for next year, and $450,000 in each future two-year budget. The group promises to match $150,000 for every future grant.