Directory

The Association of Retired Conservationists was organized by a group of retirees from the Wisconsin Conservation Department in the 1960's. By the mid-1970's, the WCD had been combined with the Department of Resource Development to form the Department of Natural Resources, and the retirees group had grown significantly, met monthly for lunch and began inviting speakers to address the group on issues of interest to the members. Today, the organization has more than two hundred members.

website contact:

retiredrick@wisarc.org

WCD/DNR History


KEY FACTORS IN SHAPING WCD HISTORY

By Dave Gjestson; edited by Jim Miller

1800s
  • 1848 – Wisconsin Territory became the 30th state on May 29.
  • 1850 – State’s population reached 305,000.
  • 1851– First restrictions on game species established.
  • 1867 – Increase Lapham reported on the destruction of state forests.
  • 1870 – State’s population at 1,054,670.
  • 1871 – Peshtigo fire burned over six counties; killed over 1,000 people.
  • 1874 – Three-man Fish Commission appointed to distribute fish spawn received from the federal Bureau of Fisheries.
  • 1876 – First state trout hatchery established at Nine Springs near Madison (later renamed “Nevin Hatchery” after James Nevin who became the state’s first full-time fisheries superintendent).
  • 1879 –Rolla Baker appointed as the state’s first warden.
  • 1885 – Three “fish wardens” authorized to patrol the Great Lakes.
  • 1887 – First four “game wardens” authorized by law (two hired).
  • 1891 – Office of the State Fish and Game Warden created in Madison.
  • 1897 – Three-man Forestry Commission created.
  • 1899 – An Interstate Park Commission was appointed.

1900-1930
  • 1900 – State’s population at 2,069,042.
  • 1901 – First state park established at St. Croix Falls.
  • 1903 - Department of State Forestry established; superintendent authorized.
  • 1904 – E. M. Griffith appointed as the first state forester.
  • 1905 – State Forestry Board replaced the Forestry Commission.
  • 1908 – First Wisconsin Conservation Commission created (seven unsalaried men).
  • 1911 – Conservation Commission reauthorized. First state nursery established at Trout Lake.
  • 1915 – Three-man, salaried Conservation Commission created (absorbed the duties of the park board, forestry board, fisheries commission, and Fish and Game Warden Office).
  • 1923 – One-man, salaried Conservation Commission authorized.
  • 1927 – Wisconsin Conservation Commission and Department created.
  • 1928 – Division of Game formed within the WCD. First state game farm for pheasant propagation and distribution established at Peninsula State Park.

1930-1960
  • 1930 – Drought conditions hit Wisconsin’s central counties.
  • 1933 – WCD authorized to open and close seasons, prescribe bag limits, and regulate the methods of harvest of fish and game. Aldo Leopold was appointed game management chair at the UW-Madison. His book, Game Management, was published.
  • 1934 – County Game Committees formed (renamed Conservation Congress in 1939). State Game Farm operation moved to Poynette.
  • 1936 – First of consecutive deer seasons since alternating closures were implemented in 1924 and generated angry sportsmen opposition commonly called, “The Deer Wars.”
  • 1937 – Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act became law (Pittman-Robertson Act).
  • 1938 – First state public hunting grounds established at Deansville (northeast Dane County).
  • 1940 – State’s population at 3, 137, 587.
  • 1942 – Aldo Leopold appointed to the Conservation Commission.
  • 1945 – First “game manager” title used in the Game Division.
  • 1950 – Seven-day any deer season produced a United States record deer harvest of 167, 911. Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act became law (Dingell-Johnson Act).
  • 1954 – Ernie Swift resigned as the WCD director and was replaced by L. P. Voigt. The term “fish manager” created about this time period.
  • 1956 – The WCD established five uniform administrative areas for all field functions of the agency.
  • 1960 – State public hunting ground acreage controlled exceeded 500,000 acres on 256 named projects. The state’s population exceeded 3.9 million.
  • 1968 – July 1, Wisconsin Conservation Department becomes Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

KEY FACTORS IN SHAPING DNR HISTORY

By Bruce Braun

1960’s
  • Political climate ripe for change
  • Weak Governor system
  • Part-time Legislature
  • Multitude of state agencies needing reorganization and reform
  • Environmental movement beginning nationwide
  • Two Governors strong advocate of environment – Nelson and Knowles
  • Both parties favorable to environmental improvementv
  • Environmental functions – Water, Air and Solid waste – enhanced or created
  • State Government Reorganized – 4 yr term Gov, cabinet and fewer agencies
  • DNR created, July 1, 1968, out of recognition for the need to coordinate resource management and environmental functions

1970’s
  • Political climate changing
  • Stronger Governor with cabinet agencies and budget control
  • Full time Legislature with more staff and overview of agency rule making
  • Partisan politics starting to be more divergent
  • Municipalities gaining more control vs. rural areas
  • Lobbyists beginning to be more influential in state government
  • Enhanced environmental regulations
  • Emphasis on command and control
  • Focus on technical solutions to pollution control
  • Resource management functions beginning to face fiscal problems
  • Public Intervener emerges as environmental force
  • DNR grows
  • Secretary becomes more visible advocate
  • Part-time Board vs. Cabinet emerges as issue which will continue to haunt



  • DNR over the next several decades

  • Line/staff organization develops unique to state government
  • Environmental staffs grow especially in the field
  • District Director;s emerge is relatively independent powers
  • Management issues emerge which will continue to fester in DNR
  • Line/staff vs. more traditional organization in state government
  • Merger vs. integration of environmental and resource functions
  • Centralization vs. Decentralization
  • Mgt. style – command/control vs. participative management



Staff Tributes & Memorials
Name Position Memorial

Amundson,Terry A.

Bureau staff, first wildlife disease specialist


Scholarship

Bangert, Suzanne

WDNR

John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with Green Bay Packaging, Inc., 1992

Berkhan, John Wildlife Staff
Flowage at Mead Wildlife Area

Besadny, C. D. “Buzz” Researcher/Former Secretary
Besadny Wildlife Area, Kewaunee County

Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, 2008

National Resources Foundation’s C.D. Besadny Conservation Grant Program named in his honor, 1990

Brandt, Paul Wildlife Biologist
Memorial plaque located in the Millville Unit of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, Grant County

Brosig, Leonard Wildlife Technician
Boat Landing Red Cedar Lake, Jefferson County

Cain, Michael J. Lawyer in Bureau of Legal Services
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with Marathon Co. Hazardous Waste Coop, Marathon Co. Health, 1995

Davidowski, Joseph E. WDNR
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with Kadinger Auto Salvage, 1994

Eicstadt, Walter Wildlife Technician
Memorial bench at Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area, Washington County

Eisberner, Donald Forestry Fire Control Technician
died while fighting a forest fire

Memorial Forest and Canoe Landing, Eau Claire County

Eisberner Training Room, Tomahawk Training Center

Erickson, Harvey Wildlife Technician
Flowage at Crex Meadows

Gates, John, and wife Connie Wildlife Researcher
Wetland Unit of Zeloski Marsh, Jefferson County

Germain, Clifford Wildlifer/Scientific Area/Natural Area Coordinator
Madison Audubon Society Award for Excellence in Community-based Restoration

Germain Hemlocks Natural Area, Oneida County

Glymph, Toni WDNR
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with 3M Menomonie Plant, 2001

Grange, Wallace Bureau Director/Researcher
Memorial bench, Sandhill Wildlife Area

Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, 1993

Griffith, Edward M. Forestry
Wisconsin’s first state forester

Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, 1998

Hale, James and wife Pat Bureau Director/Researcher
Wetland Unit of Zeloski Marsh, Jefferson County

Enrolled in the Wisconsin

Conservation Hall of Fame

USFWS Silver Eagle Award

Hartman, George Wildlife Biologist
Memorial bench, Sandhill Wildlife Area

Hamerstom, Fred and Fran
Wildlife Researchers, project leaders for DNR’s Prairie Grouse Management Research Unit, 1949-1972

Home site preservation

Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, 1996

Heinrich, Jon F. WDNR
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with City of Portage, 1987

Helf, Dan WDNR
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee, 2003

Henneger, Rick Lawyer in the Bureau of Legal Services
Henneger Point, Wyalusing State Park

Hine, Ruth Wildlife Researcher
Wetland Unit of Zeloski Marsh, Jefferson County

Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, 2010

Hunt, Richard and wife Janice Wildlife Researcher
Wetland Unit of Zeloski Marsh, Jefferson County

Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, 2012

Hunt, Robert Fisheries Biologist
Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, 2012

Jahn, Laurence and wife Helen Wildlife Researcher
Wetland Unit of Zeloski Marsh, Jefferson County

Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, 2004

Johnson, Ruth C. WDNR
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with E.I. du Pont de Nemours Co., Inc., 1988

Jordahl, Harold C, "Bud" Wildlife/Administrator
Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, 2005

Kalmerton, Roy Technician/Warden
Sheboygan County Conservation Association scholarship

Keener, John Reseacher/Bureau Director
Woodcock Management Unit, Dell Creek Wildlife Area, Sauk County

Ruffed Grouse Society Chapter

USFWS Silver Eagle Award

Kloes, Glen Wildlife Technician
Pond memorial at the Navarino Wildlife Area, Shawano County

Krueger, Rhonda Wildlife Biologist
Glacial Habitat Restoration Area memorial plaque, Horicon Marsh Wildlife Area, Dodge County

Kubisiak, John Wildlife Researcher
Grouse hunting unit located in the Wood County Forest

LaFave, Neil Technician/Warden
killed in the line of duty

Memorial plaque located in the Sensiba Unit of the Green Bay West Shores project, Brown County portion

Lahti, Duane J. WDNR
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with Rhinelander Paper Company, 1997

Landphier, Gordon Chief Forest Ranger
Inducted into Wisconsin Forestry Hall of Fame, 2012

Lane, Beth Arthur Wildlife Biologist
Ponds, Mead Wildlife Area

LeMay, Neil Chief Forest Ranger
Neil LeMay Center, Training and Equipment Development Center, Tomahawk

Lintereur, LeRoy Wildlife Biologist
Memorial plaque located in Red Arrow Park near the Seagull Bar Natural Area

Annual Achievement Award in his name awarded by the Chappee Rapids Audubon Society

Hiking trail in his name located in Harmony Hardwoods Memorial Forest, Marinette County

MacKenzie, Harley W. Conservation Warden/Director of WCD (1934-1942)
MacKenzie Environmental Center named in his honor

Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, 1988

Martini, William Forestry, Forest Ranger/Fire Control Training Officer
UW-Stevens Point Outstanding Alumni Award, 1982

National Award for Outstanding Service in Fire Management, 1988

Martini, Robert Statewide Rivers Coordinator
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with Consolidated Paper Corp., Inc., 1983

Mattason, Ken Forestry Fire Control Tower Lookout
Mattson Fire Tower, Marathon County

Meier, William Wildlife Biologist
Island in his name below Merrill, Wisconsin

Meyer, Earl N. Fire Prevention Specialist
Silver Smokey Award, 1982 from the USFS, National Association of State Foresters and the Advertising Council for developing a statewide forest fire arson prevention program in Wisconsin

after his death in 2006, the AMVETS post that he founded in 2002 was renamed, “The Earl N. Meyer AMVETS Post No. 151”

memorial bench on Paradise Springs Nature Trail, Kettle Moraine State Forest

Meyer, Linda Lawyer in the Bureau of Legal Services
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with Cardinal Environmental, Inc., 2004

Michaelsen, Michael V. Environmental Enforcement Specialist
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with Barron County, 1985

Miller, James R. Forest Fire Prevention and Forestry Law Enforcement Staff Specialist/State Locomotive Inspector
Golden Smokey from the National Association of State Foresters, USDA Forest Service and the Ad Council for work in railroad fire prevention and training.

Northeast Forest Fire Supervisor’s Eugene F. MacNamara Fire Prevention Award for work in Railroad Fire Prevention and Training.

Oehmeke, Arthur,(“Mr. Musky”) Fisheries, Director of Woodruff Hatchery
Woodruff Hatchery renamed the Art Oehmeke State Fish Hatchery, 1994

Inducted into National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, 1994

National Fish Culture Hall of Fame, 1994

Muskies, Inc. Hall of Fame, 1994

Opgenorth, Mark Wildlife Technician
Memorial fund for Strawberry Creek renovation project, Door Co.

Packard, Dean WDNR
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with Artistic Plating Company, 1998

Posekany, Lewis A. Fisheries Biologist
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with Trout Unlimited Wis. Council, 1982

Roberts, Thomas Chief Forest Ranger
Tom Roberts Memorial Nature Trail, Crystal Lake Campground, Northern Highland American Legion State Forest.

Sandberg, Harvey Wildlife Technician
Flowage at Crex Meadows

Schneider, Stanley A. Environmental Warden
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with Snap-On Tools Corporation, 1991

Schwengel,Armin Wildlife Biologist
Waterfowl Production Area, Ozaukee County

USFWS Silver Eagle Award

Scott, Walter and wife Trudi Game Warden, Researcher/Administrator
Prairie and savannah unit of Zeloski Marsh, Jefferson County

Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, 1995

Shine, Harold Wildlife Technician
Crossing located in Gardner Swamp, Door County

Smith, John Robert “J.R.” and wife Beatrice Wildlife Bureau Director
Beatrice Prairie Unit of Zeloski Marsh, Jefferson County

Steidl, Thomas F. Lawyer in Bureau of Legal Services
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with Hartwig Manufacturing Corporation, 1990

Stites, Wilbur D. Information and Education, Produced “Wisconsin Outdoors” radio and TV shows
Award of Merit from American Association of Conservation Information, 1956

Named “Madison Public Relations Man of the Year” by the Madison Press Club, 1970

Stone, Norm Wildlife Biologist
Auditorium at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area

Prairie Restoration site at Crex Meadows

Flowage at Crex Meadows

Swift, Ernest Game Warden/Director of WCD, 1947-1954
Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, 1986

Vakharia, Raj Engineer in Bureau of Air Management
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with John Deere Horicon Works, 2002

Widder, James Area Forester/Black Walnut Specialist
Black Walnut Achievement Award from the Walnut Council, Inc., 2008

Zmuda, Mitchell J. WDNR
John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement for working with the City of DePere Waste Water Treatment Program, 1989