Governor Scott Walker wants to turn the Department of Natural Resources board into an advisory panel for the agency’s secretary. Walker delivered his 2015-2017 budget address on Tuesday. Details about the DNR board came to light on Wednesday.
George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and a former DNR secretary under then Governor Tommy Thompson, says he’s a “very strong supporter” of having a board that is a decision-making body on policy regarding conservation and environmental issue.
“It really allows greater citizen participation in decision making,” he says, and the current method involves less bureaucracy and promotes more transparency.
Meyer says average citizens currently can “have their day in court,” so-to-speak, on issues related to the outdoors.
Under Walker’s proposal, the governor would control the agency via its secretary, who is appointed by the governor.
The League of Conservation Voters released a statement late Wednesday:
“The very last thing Wisconsin needs when it comes to natural resource management is more politics guiding the decisions. This is a purely political maneuver with no fiscal impact. Governor Walker may have thought he could sneak this by the voters of Wisconsin, but I don’t think it’s going to fly under the radar. Hunters and anglers, hikers and bikers, land trust advocates and birders all have fought in the past to keep politics out of natural resource decisions. I don’t think it will be any different with this terrible proposal,” said Anne Sayers, Program Director.
Conservationists look forward to working with legislators toward a state budget that solves these and other proposals in Governor Walker’s budget that negatively impact Wisconsin’s air, land, and water.
The state legislature will examine the budget in the coming months.