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Conservation groups like Cole as Wisconsin’s DNR head

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Conservation groups are applauding Wisconsin Gov.-elect Tony Evers’ pick to head the state’s DNR.

Cole

They find promise in Preston Cole heading the state’s third-largest agency, especially for his promise to return the DNR to science-based policies said Tom Hauge from Wisconsin’s Green Fire.

“The reason for us forming in the first place, and continuing to do our work, is to try to be able to provide science to the decision makers, as they consider natural resources policy,” Hauge said. “It’s, gratifying that preston will bring that to the upper leadership of the department.”

That will likely be a radical shift from Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, during which science positions at the DNR had gone unfilled and the agency’s websites eliminated references to global climate change.

Wisconsin’s Green Fire was formed in response to science getting scrubbed from natural resource policy making in favor of politics.

Critics attacked Evers for picking a DNR secretary that comes out of Milwaukee as “citified.” Hauge sees it as a strength, nothing that because Cole is coming to the job from Milwaukee, he should be able to better represent the majority of people in the state who live in cities.

“We tend to maybe think of our natural resources in a rural frame of mind,” Hauge said, “but we have to remember that most of the citizens in the state of Wisconsin live in cities.”

Cole has served as Milwaukee’s head of environmental services. He’s a 12-year member of the states’ natural resources board and was the chair of that board for three years.  

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