Walker Has Jumped The Sturgeon
March 8, 2015

We should have seen this coming. Well, some of us knew it the minute we saw that Walker didn’t know how to hold a fishing rod, and needed shooting lessons to go hunting. If you didn’t know it after seeing that priceless “Governor’s Fishing Opener 2012” photo, you knew it was coming when tax revenues dwindled and obligations to large donors increased. The cuts had to come from somewhere. Why not go for a two-fer, and eliminate a bunch of science-y jobs you don’t understand, don’t care about, and are inconvenient for large fossil fuel donors?


The DNR is full of scientists who grew up hunting, fishing, boating, or otherwise recreating in Wisconsin and then found a way to turn this into a living. It just so happens that the work they do benefits those of us who love the state’s great outdoors. Perhaps some other lucky state will get the benefits of their knowledge? We can hope so. We won’t know for some time what these cuts mean to the small businesses that are kept alive by people being able to hunt, fish, or recreate in the areas where projects took place. Estimates put the direct cuts to DNR positions at 66. Their knowledge and the research lost, however, are irreplaceable.

Cuts include:

  • River Revitalization Foundation (all of it)
  • Ice Age Trail Alliance (all of it)
  • Walleye Production Grants (all of it)
  • Gathering Waters/Natural Resources Foundation (all of it—especially stupid because these funds leveraged private funds to conserve/protect land)
  • Florence Wild Rivers Interpretive Center (all of it)
  • County Forest Association Membership Dues (all of it-- helped small municipalities cover their dues payments)
  • Education/Professional Development Aids (all of it)
  • River Alliance of Wisconsin (all of it)
  • ATV Safety Program (all of it—hey, nobody ever gets killed on these things, right?)
  • Wisconsin Lakes (all of it)
  • Ag nonpoint grants (all of it—these helped reduce massive amounts of pollutant runoff from agricultural land)
  • RU Recycling Support (almost 2/3 reduction in assistance to local communities’ recycling programs)
  • Forestry & Parks Road Aids (all of it)
  • Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center (all of it)

Of course, these cuts don’t even BEGIN to make up for the giant budget hole Walker’s dug for himself. And also of course, he wasn’t finished yet. The bigger prize was wresting control from the good people who, in a non-partisan manner, have tried to preserve the environment for future generations by stripping the citizen-governed Natural Resources Board of its authority. It’s now a powerless “advisory panel”, something Tommy Thompson tried to do but was stopped because back then the Republicans were not yet a wholly owned subsidiary of energy companies and other major donors. A few even seemed to understand that you couldn’t continue proud hunting, fishing and other outdoor hobbies without things to hunt or fish!

For more on the panoply of anti-science, anti-economic common sense measures Walker is proposing, look at what he’s proposing to do to the Downer Woods on UW-Milwaukee’s campus. Look at the extreme cuts to the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center in order to further stymie UW-Madison and guarantee that we won’t even be able to compete for Federal grants that require a state match. For a guy who used to pretend to be trying to create jobs, he’s clearly abandoned that message entirely.

Few things attract more diverse streams of funding and talented people than a robust technology and research industry. Few things raise the quality of life in a community more than natural, open spaces. Walker’s found more effective ways to scare off talent and potential new talent than any of his predecessors. The only jobs boom Walker should prepare for is one for realtors, as people clamor to leave for places that value science, the environment, and livable wage job growth.

(Previously posted at Cog Dis. Reproduced here with expressed permission of the author)

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