On October 27, 2023, Milwaukee County became the first county in Wisconsin to pass a “Rights of Nature” resolution, which is aimed at protecting Southeastern Wisconsin’s waterways and bodies of water. The resolution states “BE IT RESOLVED, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors hereby supports the “rights of nature” movement across waterways and bodies of water in Milwaukee County for protection and ensuring human activities do not interfere with nature and its ability to be healthy, robust, and resilient.”
The resolution notes the precedent set by the Menominee, Potawatomi, and Ho-Chunk Tribes in enacting this Milwaukee County rights of nature resolution, stating:
“Milwaukee County recognizes the “rights of nature”, which was initially enacted by the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin, as a sacred idea and policy to protect Southeastern Wisconsin’s waterways and bodies of water from human harm; and…WHEREAS, the Menominee, Potawatomi, and Ho-Chunk Tribes have called Milwaukee County home for generations, and the Menominee Tribe passed File No. 19-52 within their tribal government recognizing the inherent rights of the Menominee River to flourish and naturally exist;”
The resolution is non-binding which means this is not a formal law and does not take any specific action.
The resolution is the result of several weeks of discussion after Rights of Nature Wisconsin reached out to the county earlier in the year.