Gov.-Elect Tony Evers names Preston Cole new DNR secretary
Preston D. Cole is the new secretary of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Cole was appointed DNR secretary Dec. 19 by Gov.-Elect Tony Evers. Cole will eventually need confirmation by the State Senate, but will be able to begin serving as secretary after the Evers’ inauguration Jan. 7.
Cole, 56, is no stranger to natural resources, and enjoys hunting small game. He has served on the Natural Resources Board (NRB) since 2007. He was appointed to the NRB by Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle and reappointed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2013.
Cole served as NRB chair in 2013 and 2014 and showed an understanding and support for traditional conservation activities and environmental protection.
Cole showed strong leadership skills, and at his urging, the Conservation Congress developed its Youth Conservation Congress. He put emphasis on making board meetings open for citizens to see via online broadcasts.
Cole said that he would “double down on science in natural resources management” at the DNR and would see that citizens could more easily have access to NRB meetings without having to drive long distances to testify in front of the board.
Cole was raised on a small farm in Michigan, where he was taught to leave the world better than the way he found it. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in forest management. He worked as a parks superintendent for the city of St. Louis and a resource forester for the Missouri Department of Conservation. Currently, he is commissioner of the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services. Previously, he was operations chief of the Milwaukee Department of Public Works and earlier the city forester.
“I will work my tail off to reach across aisles and work with anyone who chooses to work with us,” Cole said.
Observers know Cole as a hard worker dedicated to natural resources and have no doubt he will do just that.