ĎNorthí is Doyleís first priority Tim Eisele
Wisconsin Outdoor News
Madison ó Gov.-elect Jim Doyle is preparing to assume the
governorship of Wisconsin and faces a large budget deficit
and state operations that are bracing to be pared down.
At the same time, the state faces large challenges in the
area of natural resources.
Doyle, the Democratic candidate who defeated Republican
Gov. Scott McCallum, believes two of the biggest natural
resources concerns for the state involve the Northwoods
ďThere are two issues that havenít received enough focus,Ē
he said. ďOne is how we maintain the essential nature of
the Northwoods. How, as the paper industry finds it necessary
to sell off large tracts of timberland, we protect that
ďI think there are a lot of people who hunt and fish and
think they are in state or national forest, but they actually
are on paper company land.
ďMy family came from the north. My grandfather was from
Wausau and spent a lot of time in a cabin up by Minocqua
and Iíve spent a lot of time in the Northwoods. I think
I have an appreciation for why itís special, and what it
means to have woodlands across the north. How we protect
that will be an enormous challenge during the coming years.
If we carve up all of that woodland and no longer have the
vast tracts that we have now, it will change the essential
character of this state.
ďThe second, is water. Whether you are talking about the
protection of the Wolf River and the Crandon mine issue
ó I hope the mine does not go forward because of concerns
over water quality ó or Perrier wanting to take out groundwater,
or high-capacity wells, or selling water from the Great
Lakes to other parts of the country, how we protect our
waters from people who want to take it away from us is important.
ďThe stateís name comes from strong, rushing waters. Water
to us is what mountains are to Colorado. It is what defines
this area and we really have to be focused on how we maintain
and improve our rivers and groundwater.Ē
In an exclusive interview with Doyle, here is what he said
about natural resources and the DNR.
Q: What is your view of the sports of hunting, fishing and
Doyle: I think they are wonderful activities. Iíve spent
enough time fishing that I know how much enjoyment you get
out of it. The time spent with my father in the boat fishing,
but not catching anything ó preserving the resource ó was
some really good time together. Thatís very important.
The hunting, fishing and trapping traditions in this state
are part of Wisconsinís fabric. I know how deeply people
feel about it and how important it is to our way of life.
And, when you talk about deer hunting, it is a very important
safety measure. I put 50,000 miles a year on the roads and
if we donít have a full deer hunt, it can be a serious safety
matter to drivers, as well as a big loss to agriculture.
The hunt is an important part of the natural system.
Q: What thoughts do you have on what Wisconsin has to do
Doyle: There are two directions. One, we have to be focused
on the science, how far it has spread, what its cause is,
how we eradicate it. I donít pretend to be a game management
expert, and will listen to the experts on whatís the best
way to do that. That will take a lot of effort and money,
and help from the federal government, especially since itís
been found in other states including Illinois and a Minnesota
The second thing is that we have to have in place by the
bow season next year, a public/private partnership by which
there can be private individual testing done at reasonable
prices on every single deer. A hunter should have confidence
that the deer he/she got does not have CWD.
We also have to focus on how we can restore confidence for
hunters in this state so that they can enjoy hunting deer.
This is not only important to our way of life, but crucial
to our economy, highway safety and agriculture.
We have to give individual hunters confidence that the deer
they got does not have CWD.
Q: Will you reappoint Darrell Bazzell as DNR secretary?
Doyle: I wonít comment on specific people, but I will say
it is my intention generally to bring my own people into
Q: What are you looking for in a DNR secretary?
Doyle: This is a tremendously important job and when you
look at the long-term health of Wisconsin this may be as
important as any appointment I make. Decisions in natural
resources, fish and game management, dealing with CWD, will
affect this state for years after Iím governor.
One of my great heroes in life was Buzz Besadny (DNR secretary
from 1980 to 1993). I want someone, like Buzz, who has the
combination of the appreciation and understanding of the
fish and game side, as well as the environmental enforcement
side of the agency.
Iím looking for a strong manager with a good natural resources
background. Someone whom the citizens of Wisconsin know
is not just a political appointment, but instead someone
who really cares about the natural resources of Wisconsin
and can lead this very important department.
(Doyle said he intends to have his cabinet in place, including
the appointment of a DNR secretary, before the Jan. 6 inauguration.)
Q: Youíve indicated you would like to return to having the
Natural Resources Board appoint the secretary of DNR. How
and when will you do that?
Doyle: I do think itís better environmental policy to have
the secretary appointed by the board, but I havenít decided
yet when weíll move on that. My number one priority now
is to get a balanced budget in place for this state. It
may be that a few of these things will have to wait until
after the budget.Ē
Q: Would you consider reappointing any current Natural Resources
Doyle: My mind is open. Obviously I want to make my own
appointments, that is my responsibility. But we are looking
for talent everywhere.
Q: What are you looking for in a NRB member?
Doyle: Some of this depends on who is already on the board.
You want to have a collection of different talents and abilities
on a board. Number one, you want a person who is committed
to the natural resources of Wisconsin, and someone who has
had a strong track record; that the person has really been
devoted to Wisconsinís natural resources.
But you also want to have a mix. You want to make sure there
are some very strong hunting and fishing advocates on that
board. Everyone on the board should be, but some who are
very strong, others who have a background in air and water
quality work. Itís a matter of finding a team that is devoted
to good natural resource protection, with different talents
Q: The Conservation Fund (fueled by hunting, fishing and
trapping license fees) could be $40 million in the red by
2005. What is your attitude on potential license fund increases
Doyle: Iím not very enthusiastic about increasing fees.
For one reason, particularly with deer hunting, we want
to encourage people to hunt, not put barriers up. Now, we
need hunters to go out and hunt deer. Thatís important for
the whole state and is a cost that should be born not just
by individual hunters but by the people of Wisconsin.
And, this idea that you raise fees when you are in a time
of economic difficulty always sort of bothers me. It looks
like, and probably is, an attempt to get more money out
of peopleís pockets to help balance the budget. Fees should
be very directly related to the cost of the services that
are being provided.
We should never say that we will never look at another fee
increase, because a fee may have been set 20 years ago and
no longer relates to the cost of the service, but I donít
think that we should be looking now at fee increases to
balance the budget.
(Doyle said that he had not seen a report prepared several
years ago by the Alternative Funding Committee of the Conservation
Q: It is traditional that the DNR secretary runs the top
DNR appointments past the governor. Do you expect the secretary
to do the same for you?
Doyle: Yes I would. Under our current framework, and I would
expect not only DNR but other cabinet secretaries, to run
top appointments past me.
Q: How do you expect to gain support from the Republican-controlled
Senate and Assembly?
Doyle: This is the challenge that Iíve been handed and itís
probably not a bad idea at this point in the stateís history
that we have a Democratic governor and Republican-controlled
Legislature. Thatís what the voters have chosen and we have
to live with that.
I would guess that in the area of natural resources, weíll
find 90 to 95 percent agreement, and we will work to find
those common areas. As attorney general, I had a lot to
do with enforcement of environmental laws in the state and
Iíve never found that to be a particularly partisan effort.
We should be working so that we have clean air and clean
water, that the laws are enforced fairly and evenly.
We are all committed to making sure we have wildlife and
fish for hunting and fishing, and I believe we share a lot
of common ground and will focus on the things that we agree
Q: Do you plan to participate in events such as the Governorís
Fishing Opener up north, Governorís Youth Hunt, etc.?
Doyle: I would love to participate, though I wonít guarantee
that I will catch anything.
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