WI: Former NRB member Stepp to lead DNR

Madison – Will the DNR be taking a step forward or backward?

That ultimately will be for citizens to judge, but for Gov.
Scott Walker, it is “forward,” as he has named Cathy Stepp, a past
member of the Natural Resources Board and past state senator, as
secretary of the DNR.

The 48-year-old Stepp, according to internet biographical
information, was vice president of Magnum Truck and Equipment in
Sturdevant, president of Stepp Consulting, LLC, and since 2008,
treasurer of the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Stepp served in the Senate, for the Racine area, from 2002 to
2006 and was chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development,
Job Creation and Housing and co-chair of the Environment and
Natural Resources Committee. Her chief of staff was Scott Manley,
who today is director of environmental policy for Wisconsin
Manufacturers and Commerce.

From 1998 to 2002, Stepp served on the Natural Resources Board,
appointed by then-Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Stepp said she’s an avid outdoors woman. She enjoys snowmobiling
and has hunted turkeys.

“I strongly believe job creation and environmental protection
can be mutually supportive. As a small-business owner, I understand
the importance of customer-friendly relations. The best times in my
life have been spent outdoors with my husband, Paul, and two
children, Hannah and Mitchell,” Stepp said.

Walker announced the selection of Stepp as DNR secretary on Dec.
30. She began as secretary the day Walker was sworn in, Jan. 3.

Walker was asked if DNR career employees and environmental
groups should feel antagonistic toward Stepp because of her
business background and the fact that Stepp has been critical of
the DNR in the past, but Walker scoffed at that.

“The Department of Natural Resources will uphold the laws of
Wisconsin. It won’t go any further than the laws. The DNR will be
based on science, and I have every confidence in her with her
experience in the Legislature and in private business,” he
said.

Walker said that in order to protect the state’s economy, a
portion of that is protecting natural resources, particularly land,
water, and air.

Walker also addressed speculation that he would attempt to split
the DNR into two separate agencies.

“No. DNR will remain as one agency,” Walker said.

Stepp sent out an e-mail to DNR employees the morning Walker
announced her appointment, saying she was both humbled and excited
to work with the department.

“I want you to know that as a citizen of this state I am proud
of your work,” Stepp wrote. “Our team hopes to build on your
accomplished past. Well-managed, sustainable natural resources and
a clean environment are important to Wisconsin and fundamental to a
strong economy.

“Will there be some changes? Yes, but our goal is to not change
what’s working well. There are many successes. The governor has
identified areas where he would like to see improvement.

“Briefly, he expects us to work with you, as a team, to look at
the agency’s permitting processes to find ways to streamline and
minimize review times, and he wants to strengthen this agency’s
focus on customer service. I emphasize that these are goals we will
work on together, with your input. Gov.-elect Walker is committed
to making transparent decisions that are based on the law and sound
science.”

Walker, however, reiterated that he has told the secretaries of
the state agencies that his two goals are jobs and getting the
government working to balance the budget.

Joining the DNR leadership team are Matt Maroney, as deputy
secretary, and Scott Gunderson, as executive assistant.

Maroney is originally from Masonville, Iowa. He graduated from
Loras College in 1991 with a major in political science and
economics. He graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law
in 1994.

Maroney has been an attorney at DeWitt Ross and Stevens the past
two years, and previously was the executive director of the
Metropolitan Builders Association of Greater Milwaukee. He enjoys
playing basketball, fishing, and spending time with family and
friends.

He and his wife and their two children live in Waukesha.

Scott Gunderson has been in the state Assembly for the past 16
years. He grew up on a farm in Racine County and has owned and
operated a hunting and fishing store in Wind Lake for 26 years.

Gunderson has been on the Assembly Natural Resources Committee
all eight sessions, serving as vice chairman and chairman. He
authored the state’s Constitutional Amendment protecting the right
to hunt, fish and trap, and negotiated legislative approval of the
Great Lakes Water Resources Compact to protect the interests of
Wisconsin’s residents and industries.

He lives in Waterford with his wife, Lisa, and is the father of
three adult children.

Stepp reiterated that it is the overall goal of Walker to create
jobs in this state – good jobs that will keep children here and
give them a bright future.

“I believe that can be accomplished while preserving a healthy
environment and natural resources for our quality of life,” she
said.

One of Wisconsin’s longest-serving Natural Resources Board
members, now retired, Herb Behnke of Shawano, was supportive of
Stepp’s appointment.

“I think she will be a good choice, having served on the Natural
Resources Board,” he said. “She knows the workings of the DNR and
is a very intelligent person.”

However, some environmentalists have said they believe Stepp’s
appointment is like the fox guarding the hen house.

The appointment of Stepp must be confirmed by the state Senate,
but that should not be difficult, as the Republicans control both
the Senate and Assembly.

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