Wisconsin Rep. Adam Jarchow is proposing a plan to split the DNR into different departments and Gov. Scott Walker is supporting the idea.
Jarchow was recently selected by the League of Conservation Voters to the “Conservation Dishonor Roll” for authoring bills to weaken protections for lakes, prioritize interests of individual landowners over the quality of life and health of their neighbors, privatize Wisconsin’s drinking water systems, and weaken local water quality protections.
When a politician who has spent most of his career fighting environmental protection says he has a plan to make the DNR more effective, the public should be highly suspicious. The idea of splitting fish and wildlife management from environmental regulation would mean that when fisheries biologists discover trout dying due to poor water quality they would have to work with a totally separate agency to solve the problem.
Jarchow’s proposals would move DNR functions into departments with no history of environmental advocacy. Parks would be transferred to Tourism, State Forests to Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and the Stewardship Program, which buys land for public use, to the Dept. of Administration.
Walker’s administration has already weakened the DNR by firing scientists, regulators, and environmental educators, drastically cutting funding, and naming a real estate executive as the DNR Secretary. Splitting of the DNR is an example of Walker’s “divide and conquer strategy,” which he used effectively to pit union and non-union workers against each other; and now plans to use to finish off the DNR as a functioning agency.