Environmentalists Criticize Walker Budget’s DNR Proposals

Governor's Plan Includes Halting Land Purchases Under Stewardship Program


Environmental and land conservation groups are criticizing some of Gov. Scott Walker’s plans for the state Department of Natural Resources.

Walker wants to largely halt land purchases under the state’s stewardship fund for 13 years. He also wants to take away the policymaking powers of the Natural Resources Board and make it an advisory body. The governor’s budget proposal would also lay off some DNR scientists.

Kimberlee Wright of Midwest Environmental Advocates said the governor is kicking environmental protection into the future.

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“It’s incredibly short-sighted to dismantle an agency and the capacity of it to do its job, because somebody’s going to have to do that work down the road and it’s going to be harder and more expensive,” said Wright.

Wright said many businesses suffer when the state risks having dirtier water and air and doesn’t protect enough green space.

Walker said the debt ratio of the stewardship program is too high, and the DNR can contract out to universities and others when it needs scientific research.