Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Wisconsin’s governor picks Payne to head natural resources department

Adam Payne

Madison, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Dec. 27 appointed a county administrator with a background in conservation to lead the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

The governor announced that Sheboygan County Administrator Adam Payne will replace Preston Cole as DNR secretary. Cole retired from the position in November.

Payne has served as Sheboygan County administrator for the past 20 years, coordinating and directing county administrative and management functions and developing the county’s annual budget. He led the county through two conservation projects, including cleaning up the Sheboygan River and harbor and purchasing and preserving the Amsterdam Dunes, 328 acres of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline.

Before Payne became the county administrator, he served as executive director of the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association. He also worked for the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection from 1990 to 1995. During part of that stint, he served as director of the Farmland Preservation Program.

Payne holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in communication and urban and regional planning, respectively, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

His appointment is subject to state Senate confirmation.

Prehn dispute costly for state

Wisconsin taxpayers spent about $76,000 to fund a state DNR policy board member’s
legal fight to remain on the board after his term expired, a news outlet reported Dec. 28.

The Wisconsin State Journal said it had obtained invoices through an open records request detailing state payments to Fred Prehn’s attorney, Mark Macioek, between October
2021 and February 2022.

Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker appointed Prehn to the board in 2015. His
term expired in May 2021, but he refused to step down to make way for
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ appointee, Sandra Naas. Prehn argued he
didn’t need to leave until the state Senate confirmed Naas. Republicans
who control the Senate have yet to schedule a vote on Naas’ appointment.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit seeking a court order
forcing Prehn off the board. The state Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in Prehn’s favor in June.

After his term ended, Prehn cast the deciding vote to increase the state wolf
hunt quota and to scrap proposed limits on chemicals known as PFAS in
groundwater. Earlier this month, though, he was part of a unanimous
board decision to restart the process to establish limits, a project
that will take years to complete.

Prehn announced last week that he would resign from the board at year’s end. He said it was time for the Senate to vote on Naas.

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