Wisconsin Senate committee votes unanimously to advance Cole as DNR secretary

Sen. Tom Tiffany (center) expressed his concerns about the DNR, but voted to recommend confirmation of Preston Cole as DNR secretary. Tiffany is flanked by committee clerk Mitchel Ohly (l) and legislative council Ethan Lauer (r). (Photo by Tim Eisele)

Preston Cole, secretary-designee of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), came a big step closer to being confirmed as secretary. The Senate Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry Committee met on Oct. 1, and in executive session voted unanimously to confirm Cole as secretary.

Cole, who was appointed as secretary in December by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, needs confirmation by the State Senate, and now the confirmation goes to the full Senate for a vote.

The committee held an official public hearing on the appointment March 7, when 22 people registered in support of Cole as secretary at the hearing, and nobody registered against.

Back then committee chair, Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua), said that he liked Cole but was very concerned that Evers would call the shots at the DNR and attempt to expand government.

Tiffany is one of the legislators who has been most critical of the DNR in the past, and again at this executive session enumerated three of his primary concerns:

  1. Dead Pike Lake near Manitowish Waters in Vilas County which became impaired, Tiffany said, by the DNR’s predecessor, the Wisconsin Conservation Department.  He realized some progress is being made, but he said it was time for the DNR to get the lake fixed.
  2. A new master plan for the Northeast Sands Region that he said does not reflect what local people want for timber harvests.  He said the DNR did not consider the needs of locals, and he didn’t want to see forest management like that of the federal government on national forests.
  3. Fish stocking numbers in Lake Michigan are very important for businesses.  He wants higher stocking so the lake is a destination for sportsmen.

In the end, Tiffany and the other four committee members voted in favor of confirmation.


Categories: Wisconsin – Tim Eisele

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