DNR Assumes Management of Environmental Education Center

Sep 5, 2013

The Department of Natural Resources  announced its staff will take over operation of the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center, located in Poynette, Wisconsin.

Right now if you telephone the Center, you'll reach employees of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.

Since 2006, the group has been contracted to manage the facility about 25 miles north of Madison.  Sixteen thousand school children take part in their programs - from day trips to overnights - every year.

On Thursday, the DNR announced its staff will now provide funding, curriculum and educators to run the MacKenzie Center.

Change has been in the air at the 250 acre facility since last February.

That's when the DNR announced plans to shift  programming from exploring nature and learning about ecosystems to training for hunters, anglers and trappers. After resounding criticism, the DNR modified its approach to include both environmental and outdoor skills.

The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation submitted the only proposal to carry out MacKenzie's expanded programs.

The DNR released a press release on September 5 stating, "Though we have valued our partnership with WWF over the past seven years, the review team felt the proposal did not lay out a solid path to achieving our vision."

WWF's executive director George Meyer says accomplishing everything on the DNR's wish list would be a expensive proposition that could cost well over $1 million.  During its years of management, the Wildlife Federation and MacKenzie's friends group raised half the funds to offer its environmental programs.

After receiving news of the DNR's decision Thursday, Meyer says he talked with members of the DNR to begin a smooth transition process. Meyer applauded the 9-person team currently running MacKenzie and said he hope all or many of them will be hired by the DNR.