Governor Walker reappoints Preston Cole to Natural Resources Board
For only the second time in the two years he has been governor, Scott Walker has made a good decision regarding the Natural Resources Board (NRB).
Gov. Walker announced on May 28 that he was reappointing Preston Cole to another NRB term. His first good decision was appointing Gary Zimmer to the board back in April.
Cole is serving as NRB chairman and has been an effective and forceful chair since taking over that role in January. During a contentious February meeting Cole ended up asking DNR conservation wardens to remove anti-hunting, anti-trapping activist Patricia Randolph from the room after she railed against individual board members. And in her closing remark Randolph speculated that maybe she should use a 2×4 with a barbed wire wrapped around the end of it on board members, the way she contends some hunters use a 2×4 on wildlife to get them out of a culvert.
The following day during an equally volatile meeting when sentiment ran high with members of the public about the DNR’s abrupt cancellation of an agreement with the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation for running the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center, Cole walked out from his seat at the head of the table and personally addressed the public. He explained that the board’s job was to listen to the public and the members’ of the public responsibility was to be respectful and within the limited time they have provide their perspective to the board.
At the May meeting after the DNR had made a presentation regarding opening waters statewide for trolling for muskies and two members of the public expressed serious concerns, Cole called the DNR back to the table and said it was their turn for “point, counter point.” He wanted the DNR to answer the concerns of the public.
Cole provides a steady hand at chairing the citizen board and has earned the respect of many observers. His six-year term on the board began May 1.
He also is taking the board in several new directions, including putting more emphasis on technology for public access to board meetings.
Cole holds a senior level appointed position as director of operations for the city of Milwaukee Department of Public Works. This position acts as the deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Works. His span of control covers approximately 2,400 employees, $300 million O&M and enterprise budgets, along with a $108 million capital budget.
His past experience includes serving as parks superintendent for the city of St. Louis and as a forester for the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Too bad the governor’s good natural resource choices didn’t begin earlier when his staff selected Dr. Kroll as the state’s deer czar, or when he selected a secretary and deputy secretary who have no educational background in natural resources.