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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

Welcome to the ARC Breaking News/Action page where you are encouraged to enter items members may be interested in reading that are too timely to wait for discussion at our next monthly meeting.

If you misplaced the Comment Code you were sent in the April 2016 monthly News blast, please email me here.

Important Timely News

Former secretaries' letter opposing DNR split                                           Jan 18, 2017

Former DNR Secretaries

January 10, 2017
Governor Scott Walker
State Capitol
Madison, Wisconsin 53703

Re: Proposal to Split the Department of Natural Resources into Five State Agencies

Dear Governor Walker:
The following six former DNR Secretaries serving for 36 years from 1975 through 2011 urge you and the Legislature not to adopt the current proposal to split the Department of Natural Resources into five state agencies. The six Secretaries have served under several Republican and Democratic Governors.

The current unitary organizational structure of DNR was created under Republican Governor Warren Knowles and approved by a Republican Legislature. The unitary organizational structure was recommended by the Kellett Commission chaired by Bill Kellett, the former President of the Kimberly Clark Corporation. The purpose of the Commission's recommendations in creating the current Department of Natural Resources from a number of other agencies was to bring together all the closely interrelated conservation and environmental functions to increase government efficiency and effectiveness, reduce costs and to provide one focal point for Wisconsin citizens to have their conservation and environmental problems addressed.

It is our experience from administering the agency that the issues that the DNR deals with on a daily basis require constant interaction between the Department's 25+ Bureaus. Just a few examples of the difficulties caused by the separation of these programs into five agencies are:

1. There is a close interaction between fisheries and water quality and water regulation functions. This is both at a policy level, an environmental permitting level and when specific problems arise, just a few examples are dealing with fish kills; setting lake and stream standards; alteration of streams, lakes and wetlands; and dealing with urban and agricultural runoff to name just a few. The strength of the Kellett Commission Reorganization was the recognition that one agency should coordinate that necessary interaction to assure that we had healthy lakes and streams to maintain the quality fishery wish is important to sportsmen and women and the state's tourism.

2. Currently DNR has credentialed law enforcement staff in Parks, Forestry and the Bureau of Law Enforcement that houses Wisconsin's conservation wardens who enforce both conservation and environmental laws. Secretary Stepp has recently combined all these DNR law enforcement functions into the Bureau of Law Enforcement to save costs and promote more organizational effectiveness. Under the proposed agency split there would be law enforcement responsibilities in the Fish and Game agency for fish and wildlife, in the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection for Forestry, the Department of Tourism for Parks and the new Environmental Agency for civil and criminal environmental violations. It should be noted that neither the DATCP nor Tourism currently has credentialed law enforcement experience. The law enforcement split would also be very confusing to citizens when they counter an environmental or conservation violation and wish to report the violation.

3. Forest management and wildlife management are highly correlated resource management functions. This applies to both game management and nongame and endangered species. The management of DNR's 600,000 acres of State Forest lands and policy oversight of 2.4 million acres of County Forest Lands and 3.3 million acres of Managed Forest Law lands are critically important to maintaining and in some cases increasing individual wildlife species. The involvement of the Forestry program with the Wildlife Bureau in game management programs and the Natural Heritage Conservation Bureau in nongame and endangered species is critically important in setting policy for the management of forest lands and often on daily land management decisions. Under the proposed DNR split three agencies (Fish and Wildlife, DATCP and the Department of Environmental Protection would have to be involved in the long term policy setting and daily operational decisions about the wildlife on these lands.

It should also be noted that the current DNR Forestry program also does all the forestry management on Fishery areas, Wildlife areas, State Natural Areas and State Parks. Under the DNR split proposal you would have forest management decision making and coordination under four state agencies (Fish and Wildlife, DATCP, DEP and Tourism).

One of the major examples given by the DNR split proponent is the lower deer population in Northern Wisconsin. While there are other causes of the reduced Northern Deer Herd such as winter weather and predators, the major reason for the lower deer numbers in the North is the maturity of the forest. The Legislature has sought to address this maturity in part by increasing the percentage of acres in State Forests to be actively harvested and by focusing DNR foresters' responsibilities on DNR land management including park, forestry, fish, wildlife and state natural area lands. Under the proposed DNR split you would now have the Forestry Program and the Wildlife Program in two agencies complicating the ability to continue the current DNR effort to increase deer habitat in Northern Wisconsin. This would clearly be counterproductive to the proponent's stated goal of increasing the Northern deer herd.

4. Currently the DNR's Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation has the responsibility to set state nongame and endangered species (both animal and plant) policies and for the management of the 681 State Natural Areas which are managed for their nongame and endangered wildlife and for rare plant species. Under the DNR split proposal, policy and management of those lands will be split into four agencies (Fish and Wildlife, Tourism, and DATCP and DEP). This would be costly and far less effective to do than under the current agency structure.

Governor Walker, we have addressed just a very few of the many policy and day-to-day management activities that are closely coordinated by having a unitary Department of Natural Resources. There are scores of other such interactions that are critically important to manage Wisconsin's Natural Resources in and effective and efficient manner.

We would like to address three other issues relating to the proposed DNR split:

1. The current Natural Resources Board has oversight responsibilities over all state natural resource management programs and is able to assure that the DNR is managing those programs in a coordinated manner. The Natural Resources Board has provided average Wisconsin citizens direct access to the Board as decision makers on all conservation and environmental policy decisions. Under the proposed DNR split, only the Fish and Wildlife Agency will have a conservation based board. While the Forestry program will have the DATCP board for citizen access, that board undoubtedly will have an agricultural direction and not an integrated natural resource management expertise. The Parks program, all of the state environmental programs and the Stewardship program will not have citizen board oversight allowing direct citizen input. Along with citizens in general, conservation and environmental organizations that focus on broad integrated natural resources management, including the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, will have to work with five different state agencies in order to represent their citizen members on conservation and environmental matters.

2. Current information on the proposed DNR split plan indicates that the split will not have any additional costs to the Wisconsin citizens in taxes or license fees. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau however indicates that there will be significant future costs from the split. The state of Michigan is a perfect example. In 1995 the Governor of Michigan, by Executive Order, split the Michigan DNR into two agencies, a conservation agency and an environmental agency. The Michigan's equivalent of our Legislative Fiscal Bureau documented that the cost of the split was $4 million. However since no additional state funds were provided to complete the split, the costs were absorbed by cutting the agency's front line staff which provided direct services to the public.

As pointed out by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau the proposed Wisconsin DNR split will have significant personnel costs. The new DEP will have several new high level staff including a Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and Assistant Deputy Secretary, Division Administrators and additional Bureau Directors and Section Chiefs for the typical agency administrative functions such as Human Resources, IT, Legal Services, Public Information, Budget and Fiscal Management. Also the movement of the Forestry program to DATCP will double the size of that agency and the addition of the Parks program to Tourism will increase that agency tenfold. The expansions of those agencies will result in increased compensation for all of the above mentioned Office of the Secretary and administrative bureaus in both of those agencies.

A DNR split into five agencies will also lead to significant disruption to the functions of the current DNR as the split is planned and implemented, all at loss of services to Wisconsin's citizens.

3. Lastly, the proponent of the DNR split into five agencies correctly indicates that several other states have divided their conservation and environmental functions into two or more agencies.
As former agency Secretaries who had frequent interaction with other states' Conservation and Environmental Directors, the feedback we received from those individuals was that they were jealous of the Wisconsin integrated agency natural resource system since it allowed effective and efficient coordination of the many complex issues that are interrelated between conservation and environmental programs. Wisconsin should not move backward in natural resource management by splitting the DNR.


Governor, we hope that this information is helpful in your assessment of the proposal to split the DNR into five separate agencies. We remain available to you and your staff to address the information in this letter or any other related questions you may have.

Sincerely yours,




Anthony S. Earl, Former Secretary Bruce Braun, Former Deputy Secretary
1975-1980 On behalf of
C.D. 'Buzz' Besadny, Former Secretary
1980-1992




George E. Meyer, Former Secretary Darrell Bazzell, Former Secretary
1993-2001 2001-2003




Scott Hassett, Former Secretary Matt Frank, Former Secretary
2003-2007 2007-2011

Cc: Wisconsin Legislature
Natural Resources Board
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp
DOA Secretary Scott Neitzel

ARC letter to lawmakers opposing DNR split                                           Jan 18, 2017

Wisconsin Association of Retired Conservationists
Madison, WI
33 Stacy Lane
Madison, WI 53716
January 11, 2017



RE: Proposal to split Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Dear State Representative:

The Association of Retired Conservationists--an organization of more than 300 foresters; conservation wardens; fish and wildlife managers and biologists; parks and recreation, and air and water quality professionals; and licensing and customer service specialists--strongly recommends against dividing Department of Natural Resources functions into separate agencies. Such a move would be a disservice to the people of Wisconsin, the sustainability of its natural resources and the health of its environment; and would undoubtedly increase costs, reduce service and response to conservation needs, create inefficiencies in integrating essential work, and cripple the ability to focus on the natural resources and environmental priorities of lawmakers.

There is wisdom and efficiency in DNR's integrated conservation and environmental functions, the proof most easily seen in our world-class hunting and fishing opportunities, our top-ranked state parks and bicycle trails, our nation-leading network of snowmobile trails, and our nationally-recognized clean air and clean waters essential to enjoying these pursuits. They are reflected in the record number of bald eagles now nesting in Wisconsin; our removal of osprey and trumpeter swans from the state endangered species list; the resurgence of lake sturgeon and walleye in Lake Winnebago; and in the economic and ecological renaissance of once contaminated rivers and harbors in Milwaukee, Sheboygan, Racine and Marinette. The seamless current structure-though not perfect-for decades has provided a solid foundation for two of the state's top three economic engines--forest products and tourism.

These high quality natural resources that make Wisconsin a vacation, hunting and fishing destination, a healthy place to raise our children, and a quality of life attraction to businesses were the direct result of an integrated DNR. Stepping backward from that successful and proven structure is a mistake.

These are just a few examples of the benefits to citizens, our natural resources and the environment of an integrated DNR working with partners and citizens. More examples include:

*Integrated work teams assure our forests, parks and lands provide year-round recreational opportunities, habitat and food for wildlife, and raw products for industry. As well, these lands function as filters of our surface and groundwater, and protection against flooding.

*DNR's integrated customer call center (available an unprecedented 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week) is a one-stop resource where citizens can get a permit, license or tag; register a recreational vehicle; find a park; report emergencies, poaching and other violations; get regulations questions answered; or get connected with experts in all fields pertaining to the state's land, water, air, wildlife, fisheries and environment. In many cases, cross-trained customer service professionals are able to provide callers with a complete picture of requirements and contacts for outdoors projects.

*Developing boat access sites, which are so important to local economies, is a seamless collaboration of property management specialists, site engineers, fisheries technicians, water resource and stormwater engineers, grant specialists, aquatic invasive species technicians, and conservation warden recreational safety specialists. Proposed plans to split DNR would break siting boat landings into five different agencies, inevitably slowing and complicating the process.

*In a recent example, a storm that moved through northern Wisconsin left the Tuscobia Trail impassable with fallen trees and debris. After two failed attempts to find a contractor for the cleanup, fisheries and forestry utilized their programs' trained operators and heavy equipment to get the job done. Rapid response and sharing of such resources is one strength of a unified and responsive DNR, assuring the year-round efficient use of resources and staffs during their different busy seasons. As has been proven during many times of emergency, having priorities set by one administration enables a unified, fast response from all programs.

*Integrated work teams assure a single contact for business for meeting all land, air and water requirements. Splitting the agency would, for example, force a developer to consult one agency on endangered resources, another on wastewater or other water and air permits, and perhaps another for removing land from forest tax law enrollment. Getting approvals and permits from multiple agencies would cost developers more in time and preparation. Without DNR coordination assistance, environmental impact statements, U.S. EPA, U.S. Corps of Engineers, and other companion permits would be far more complex and time consuming to assemble, obtain public input, and complete. Priority of the projects would be subject to costly and time-consuming multiple agency administrations, approvals, goals and schedules.

*DNR has been particularly effective in providing emergency services in response to flood, fire and windstorm events. The effectiveness and efficiency of DNR's proven record in emergency response would be significantly impacted by a split, not only from an incident management perspective. but also in accounting for costs during the incident and recovery efforts following the incident. Recent examples of this would be the breach and subsequent draining of Lake Delton in 2008 and the Germann Road fire of 2013. The Town of Morrison well contamination integrated response team dealt with a large and severe manure spill that affected several waterways and area wells. This team set up a single post in the town hall where area farmers and property owners could come together and get needed permitting and financial assistance. Applications then were processed, evaluated, approved and issued in one evening and in one place.

*In addition, a consolidated DNR operates with shared information management, personnel, finance, specialized equipment, secretary's office and administrative functions. In a split DNR, this necessary internal infrastructure would have to be replicated across multiple agencies at increased cost to taxpayers.

DNR's administration under Secretary Cathy Stepp has just completed an extensive restructuring process to streamline the agency and improve agency responsiveness. Implementation has just begun. We strongly believe that this restructuring should be given an opportunity to work before considering dividing the agency. A division would disrupt services, bring with it a host of new and unknown challenges, build walls between services, create priority and goal-setting conflicts and communication problems, and would be extremely expensive and difficult to walk back. Perhaps most importantly, it also would deprive the department's clients and customers of the efficiency of 'one stop shopping' in their personal and business relationships with the department.

The members of the Association of Retired Conservationists, with literally thousands of years of combined experience in managing natural resources and the environment, voted unanimously to support maintaining the present integrated structure of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. We have worked within that structure and believe it is the most efficient and effective way to deliver high-quality environmental and natural resources service to Wisconsin's citizens and economy.

Sincerely,



Laurel F. Steffes, President
Association of Retired Conservationists

Conservation Lobby Day is March 29                                           Jan 18, 2017


Save the Date!
Conservation Lobby Day is March 29
Dear Laurel,

It is back! Conservation Lobby Day 2017 is March 29!

Register here today.

Join us at the Monona Terrace and the State Capitol for this exciting day. You will join hundreds of conservation voters demonstrating their power and voicing their concerns to legislators.

Wisconsin is facing unprecedented threats to its drinking water, public lands, and its conservation heritage. In the face of these threats, Conservation Lobby Day 2017 offers you an opportunity to take direct action in defense of Wisconsin's natural resources.

This year's Lobby Day will be an exciting, engaging event. It will include speakers, opportunities for education, and time to convene with hundreds of your fellow conservation voters to fight together as well as socialize and network.

At Conservation Lobby Day 2017, you will:
*Get the inside scoop on the top issues facing our drinking water and public lands.

*Participate in a scheduled meeting with your state Senator and Representative's offices.

*Network, strategize, and make new friends with hundreds of other conservation-minded citizens from across the state.

*Attend trainings presented by professionals.

Register here today.

We will keep you updated on our website as the day draws nearer. For now, save the date -- March 29 -- and register so we know you are coming. I am very excited to see all of you. Your voices, energy, and conservation values send a powerful message to legislators. Truly, we cannot wait to get started!

Thank you for being a conservation voter,

Jennifer Giegerich
Legislative Director
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters

RetiredRick                                           Jan 7, 2017

Hot off the press, DNR report to JFC on revenue options titled 'Revenue Options for Wisconsin Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Management'. Thank to Bob S. See 'What's New' page for the report

Laurel Steffes                                           Jan 4, 2017

Here's the information on the newly forming advocacy/speakers' bureau group that is forming among retirees to support DNR programs:

New organization forming - Resource and Speakers' Bureau in Support of DNR Programs
From Terry Daulton tdaulton@centurytel.net and Jeff Wilson
Hello folks,
Jeff Wilson and I are writing to share an idea we have been kicking around, to get feedback from friends and colleagues and to see if the concept merits further discussion.
In recent months and years, many of us who have spent out lives working in natural resources research, management, or policy have been dismayed (if not depressed) by threats to environment and the land ethic Aldo Leopold developed and nurtured in Wisconsin. I think that many of us have also felt a bit hopeless and powerless in the face of negative attitudes towards science, facts, and the relentless focus on short term economic policies which put the environment at risk. Whether premeditated or not, it is clear that there is a multi-faceted attack on the land ethic in Wisconsin and now perhaps nationally. Two weeks ago I received a copy of an article in "The Guardian" written by the fiction author, Barbara Kingsolver, that really got us fired up. It suggested that it is time for us to take off the kid gloves and use our expertise to defend our values, whether we are writers, artists, or scientists. I have attached the link for that article below here.
So, we have come up with an idea for an organization of natural resources professionals who want to provide good information to the public and media on natural resources policy. This group could be mostly retirees who can speak out without fear of backlash and who have a deep understanding of the history of resource management in the state. We are envisioning the goals of this group could be to draw on the expertise of members to write white papers as issues arise, and these papers could be used to create press releases, letters to the editor, and could be posted online on a blog perhaps. This could be a bit like a Union of Concerned Scientists, but with a Wisconsin natural resources focus. The group would have members from different specialties such as wildlife, watersheds, permitting, air quality, fisheries, forestry, parks, or research. In this way, each person would be free to work in their area of expertise when an issue arose, and the work load would not be too onerous for any one person. We tried to think about whether an existing organization is doing this kind of work. There are many great organizations in the state and region, but when we thought about it it seemed like most existing non-profits have missions that give them a focus on one field or the other, or perhaps do not have the breadth of technical expertise that this proposed group could provide. Also, a group of (mostly) retirees has extensive background in agency methods and planning and how policies actually play out on the landscape.
Jeff and I would like to offer to host a get together to discuss this idea and whether it is worth pursuing.
We have come up with a couple of ideas for names for such a group.... drawing on the Leopold Legacy. One might be the "Green Fire Coalition" or another idea could be the "Land Ethic Coalition". But we could explore this idea too. I am attaching a doodle poll here to see how many of you might be interested in an initial conversation and what dates might be convenient. Please also share this with colleagues who you might think have an interest and ability to contribute. http://doodle.com/poll/m5bzvx7gz7uqzfzu

Second Email:
. . . we have settled on Feb 25th for the meeting date. We have contacted Kemp Station, which for those of you who may not have been there, is located just outside Woodruff. I have tentatively reserved their new meeting room space and told them I thought we might need a few overnight rooms. Kemp has reasonable overnight housing for those who might want to stay over one night or make a weekend of the trip. In fact, if we do have several overnight folks, we get the meeting space for free! The fee for a night is $40 (unless you are university staff and get a discount). You can visit Kemp Station website for more information, http://kemp.wisc.edu/ The rooms have single beds, and there are kitchen facilities and bathrooms in the main lodge building. The station is set in a lovely stand of old hemlock forest on the shores of Tomahawk Lake, so a great location for us to ponder our purpose and goals.
Please let me know if you plan to come to the meeting and if you would want a room for overnight. It would be great if you could get back to me soon, so I can confirm numbers with Kemp. At the latest, please let me know by January 5.
Even if you can't make the meeting on the 25th, but have ideas you want to share, please send me the information. If you would like to be removed from this list please let me know.
Terry Daulton and Jeff Wilson
ORGANIZATIONAL DRAFT-GREEN FIRE (Name to be discussed and is tentative)
To date, most of the people who have been invited to participate in our new group are retired natural resource professionals from state or federal agencies or colleges/universities. There seems to be a consensus that we can contribute to maintaining the land ethic in Wisconsin, help protect the legacy of science based natural resources management in the state, and put our professional skills to work in a way that feels meaningful and impactful.
There are also concerns that we target our efforts carefully with a realistic understanding of the political times and the fact that we all have full and busy lives. With this in mind, we suggest preparing for our meeting with some ideas to work from. Please send your responses to the following questions to help us make our time productive.
Possible roles for the organization have been suggested:
*drafting white papers and press releases on various topics to provide to interest groups, policy makers and the public
*investigating communications between politicians, agency staff and funders to identify problems
*lead an effort to bring together environmental and resource user organizations across the state in a focused campaign.
*Will our group be only responding to issues, or also taking a proactive approach with a positive message
1. What role (from the above list or other ideas) or roles would be the most important and effective for our group to take on as a main focus.
2. Should our focus be state-wide, or should we tackle national or local issues?
3. What natural resource issues/topics should we take on (list your top five)?
4. What kind of organizational structure should we consider? Are there models we could use?
5. Will you need overnight lodging for the meeting at Kemp Station? If so, Friday and/or Sat/?
6. Would you stay for a later afternoon happy hour and dinner time potluck Saturday night?

Barbara Wolf                                           Dec 19, 2016

We are sad to learn that Thomas Kroehn, former water quality engineer and head of the DNR Environmental Programs until his retirement in 1992, passed away on December 7. Tom's daughter Mary Ann Buenzow is a current DNR employee and his son-in-law Brian Buenzow is retired from DNR's wildlife program and an ARC member. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 7, 2017, at 11 a.m. at Midvale Community Lutheran Church, 4329 Tokay Blvd, Madison, WI 53711. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until the time of the service.
Full obituary may be found at
http://www.cressfuneralservice.com/obituary/170329/Thomas-Kroehn/

DuWayne Gebken                                           Oct 16, 2016

Carl Blabaum's obituary
Blabaum, Carl J. http://host.madison.com/news/local/obituaries/article_febb984a-01de-5b16-95a8-4268275c8d1d.html

DuWayne Gebken                                           Oct 12, 2016

Kwallek, Albert Joseph Jr. http://host.madison.com/news/local/obituaries/article_f7724ee3-ffde-565f-89c2-f062e8496aab.html

Barbara Wolf                                           Sep 16, 2016

Peggy Beaumier from the NER retiree group sent this along: The Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility (BAFF) in Kewaunee is having its Open House again this year! It will be held on Saturday, October 1, from 9:00 am - 3:00 pm. There will be casting practice for children as well as a 1 1/2 mile nature hike.

Barbara Wolf                                           Sep 16, 2016

Here's a reminder for current group health insurance program participants. Have you earned your 2016 Well Wisconsin Incentive? Complete both the wellness assessment and health survey now to avoid delays in payment. Incentives earned after October 31 will not be issued until January 2017. For more information, go to wellwisconsin.wi.gov and see who is eligible, find further links to your health plan's physician form and health survey, and register for an onsite biometric screening.

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