Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Round-up of key recent posts about Wisconsin's damaged DNR

I'm consolidating three very recent posts about the expanding damage being done intentionally to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - - and by extension to the people's land, air and water rights - - by right-wing GOP Gov. Scott Walker, his legislative allies, and the developer Cathy Stepp
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
whom he installed atop the agency to implement a "chamber of commerce mentality" greatly at odds with science, the public interest and the DNR's long-standing and now-threatened mission.

*  Wisconsin groups fight Walker's DNR. Again.
This time the familiar pattern repeats itself because the DNR hurriedly approved a big sand mine where there are wetlands and rare stands of timber, and environmental groups are going to court to force the DNR to do its job on behalf of taxpayers and the environment spelled out here by the DNR itself.
*  Divorcing the public, WI DNR flips off State Fair.
Scott Walker's intentionally-refocused "chamber of commerce mentality" DNR - - which is more and more a defacto state commerce department prioritized to hand out permits for massive animal feeding operations and sand mines than an environmental protection organization - - is adding to the distance it is cementing between everyday Wisconsin residents and taxpayers by ending its 70-some-years-old big outreach presence at the Wisconsin State Fair: 
Effective this year, the DNR will no longer offer fisheries, wildlife or environmental management booths, casting clinics, archery, a children's nature play area, Smokey's Schoolhouse and a number of other attractions. 

A surprise not unlike its efforts to kill off without warning or fact-based justification the 99-year-old popular Wisconsin Natural Resource magazine that legislators hope to save by trimming its issues by one-third.
*  Damage deepens at Walker/Stepp's anti-science WI DNR.
It was only yesterday that I put the DNR's near-complete withdrawal from a high-profile, seven decades-long run of exhibits, clinics and welcoming staffing at the annual State Fair into a broader context of the DNR's intentional pullback from public information services and modern scientific work in the public interest that people in Wisconsin absolutely need if they, we are going to have clean and air, water and land.
* That post validated information and opinion I gathered, posted and updated last year from many current and former DNR staffers and managers, as well as a number of professionals in routine contact with the agency.
They all described a debilitating, politicized, anti-science environment within the DNR that was squashing research, data collection and normal activities at what had been a nationally-valued public resource oversight department.
*  Now a new hammer blow that suggests the tipping point has come:
The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Walker is further weakening through disconnecting transfers - - an age-old bureaucratic ploy - - the work of the few science staffers whose positions he had not already eliminated that his GOP legislative allies have sought and will additionally further restrict scientific work carried out at the direction of Cathy Stepp, the former developer whom Walker appointed in 2011 as agency's business-friendly Secretary.
*  WI ignores lessons of self-inflicted MI water crises.
...file under 'with governing comes responsibility.'
5 Michigan Officials Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter in Connection With Flint Water Crisis
I'm not saying there is perfect equivalency between what happened in Flint and what is going in Wisconsin's Kewaunee County, for example, where the state has not moved aggressively against known, long-standing drinking water contamination - - 
Complete DNR fail: Massive fecal pollution in Kewaunee County wells
 - - and where lax pollution inspections and enforcement has been organized against by citizens and advocates, and documented:
State audit finds DNR ignoring own rules on water pollution
- - but the Michigan tragedy with multiple victims which will linger for years is certainly a lesson in personal responsibility, smart policy-making - - unlike Wisconsin's laws blatantly-tilted towards factory farming - - and the consequences, logical or unintended, of public policy failure.
And quietly shipping Kewaunee residents bottled water as the 2018 election looms, and after years of inaction while government kept expanding the big feedlot operations while reducing inspections and pollution enforcement, speaks volumes.

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