Wisconsin DNR

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

A decades-old tradition unfolded at West Allis Central High on Monday evening - and at schools and courthouses in every county in the state. The Wisconsin Conservation Congress conducted its annual spring hearings.

KEVIN CHANG, FLICKR

The idea has arisen again of breaking up the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Supporters believe placing its functions in different agencies would make things run more efficiently. Gov. Walker indicated this week that he thinks the proposal has merit. Some environmentalists worry the plan would have disastrous effects.

The idea is to basically divide the Department of Natural Resources into two separate agencies. The latest proposal comes from Republican state Rep. Adam Jarchow of Balsam Lake.

Wisconsin DNR Fails To Update Lead Testing Guidance In Wake Of Flint Crisis

Dec 7, 2016
Siddhartha Roy / FlintWaterStudy.org

Nine months after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned against flushing water systems before testing for lead, the state Department of Natural Resources has not yet passed that advice on to public water systems in Wisconsin.

Susan Bence

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provided a glimpse of its realignment this week.

The announcement did not come as a surprise, but surely is raising some eyebrows. Over a year ago, the agency set out to streamline the DNR and make it more customer-friendly.

Change has been afoot at the Wisconsin DNR, since Republicans took control of state government in 2011 and this is the latest iteration.

Last year the Legislature cut the agency’s research team by 31 percent.

The majority of Wisconsin's Conservation Congress recommends that the state change the way it selects its DNR secretary, repeal its new iron mining law and cease issuing permits for frac sand mining operations.

The WCC is the only state-recognized citizen advisory body to the Natural Resources Board, and as such, can pass-along opinions to state leaders. 

S Bence

Forty-five former Department of Natural Resources' staff and administrative heads have publicly expressed concern that the agency is not carrying out its mission of protecting Wisconsin’s environment. They took their message to the EPA in the form of letters.

In the letters, the authors list what they perceive to be the "most serious problems with the new DNR," which include:

S Bence

Steamy heat is expected to dominate the Wisconsin State Fair’s closing days, so the DNR park at the southwest corner of the grounds might get more visitors than usual.

DNR outreach coordinator Trisha Nitschke says 120,000 people wander through its shady lanes every year. 

S Bence

It’s being called a “department strategic alignment effort” and comes after waves of change within Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources in recent months.

The state budget doled out staff cuts, including to the DNR’s science research team.

Now, the agency has announced a major reorganization. Governor Walker wants the DNR to become a customer-oriented team - for hunters and corporations alike.

S Bence

Melissa Cook manages the Hank Aaron State Trail. The project has been many years in the making.

S Bence

For many the nine-day season is a cherished tradition. Tim Lizotte plays a roll in making the hunt happen. He's a DNR wildlife supervisor.

In less than four months, Wisconsin’s third wolf hunt will commence. The quota will be 156; nearly 100 less than last year’s.

P McConnell

Wisconsin’s second wolf hunt reaches a turning point December 2. Licensed hunters can now use up to six dogs to help track wolves. Wisconsin is the only state to allow the practice. Some celebrate the rules and others take to court.

Kevin Chang, Flickr

Wisconsin’s nine-day gun deer hunt begins Saturday.

Waukesha's proposal to purchase Lake Michigan water is now open for public review. The City held the first of four public meetings Thursday.

While the federal government shutdown has closed federal recreational areas in Wisconsin, people can still visit state-owned lands.

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