Apr 5

On Being a Delegate for the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and Why You Should Consider Doing the Same

The vision of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress is to strengthen and enhance our ability to gather and convey the wisdom and influence of Wisconsin citizens in the formation of natural resource policy, research, education, and conservation.

Find your county hearing/election location here. 

I have been a delegate for over 6 years I wrote this before running and it’s as pertinent as ever.

Last year at about this time, I figured out that I was going to go for it, to run for a Delegate position for Dane County. I was not only horrified at the direction leadership in the DNR was going but the actualization that unless I was going to put myself out there for what I truly believe, nothing was going to change. The complete pull towards politics, hunting lobby special interests and business, instead of sound science and the public opinion was clear in such issues as the wolf hunt, mining, wetland destruction, endangered species, the expansion of hunting and trapping in state parks and turning nature preserves & educational centers into shooting ranges. And you know what, the DNR considers public input to be the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.

At first I was intimidated, and let me tell you, as a non-consumptive user (meaning non hunter/ non fisherman) walking into a room with many people dressed in camo and NRA hats, it feels like you are in the wrong place. But you aren’t. The WCC was created for conservation issues in Wisconsin and instead has become more of a hunting, fishing and trapping club, with some pretty extreme views. However, as I approach my first year as a delegate, I can tell you that most other delegates are respectful, kind and willing to hear the views of someone who doesn’t participate in their activities. Also many of these people do care about issues of environmentalism and protection, just with a different motivation, so it is easy to get along with people well.

credit WI DNR

Honestly, you do need to gather some support. I reached out to my local humane society, friends, family, radio programs, other clubs and decided to simply address the issues presenting us, hunting in state parks, the wolf hunt and the loss of science in the DNR policy. You need a good turnout and you need to be quick. In the larger counties you’ll need lots of support, but in the smaller counties, you may need just 10-15 people to attend with you. Think about what issues you care about and run on those. Being honest is always good but make sure you pick an issue that will expand your base. You can find a listing of this year’s “questionnaire” here.

I STRONGLY encourage those of you who care about wildlife, mining issues, conservation and outdoor recreation to consider becoming a delegate. The volunteer time is truly minimal and much communication is done simply through email. You can choose how involved you want to be. For example, I serve on the legislative committee which meets twice yearly.

Each April, there is one 2-year term and one 3-year term available on the Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC), unless other vacancies occur. County residents in attendance at the annual county meeting have the opportunity to nominate a peer. The nominee has the opportunity to say a few words (up to 3 minutes) on how he or she could best represent their county and be a local avenue for citizen input and exchange concerning all natural resource issues through the WCC on a local and statewide level.

credit WI DNR

As a county delegate you agree to represent the citizens of Wisconsin by working with the Natural Resources Board and the Department of Natural Resources to effectively manage Wisconsin’s greatest asset, our abundant natural resources, for present and future generations to enjoy. Citizens in attendance at the County meetings have the opportunity to vote on nominees. In order for the nominee to be elected they must receive at least 50% + 1 vote of eligible voters in attendance.

Delegate Eligibility

  • Any citizen of the county who is able to represent the citizens of Wisconsin, and be a local avenue for citizen input and exchange concerning all natural resource issues through the WCC on a local and statewide level is eligible to be nominated and to run for election that evening.
  • Must be a Wisconsin resident.
  • Elected delegates must be an adult resident of the county (at least 18 years of age).
  • To guard against possible conflict of interest or bias, no full or part-time employee(s) of the Department of Natural Resources or member of the Natural Resources Board shall be members of the WCC.
  • Must be willing to volunteer their time and efforts by:
  1. Attending 2 district meetings per year (one in March and one in August); assisting in the county meeting in April; attending the annual convention in May and one or more advisory committee meetings in the fall of the year.
  2. Working with local citizens and organizations on natural resource issues on a local basis, and participating in outreach and outdoor initiatives of local and statewide significance.

Its crucial that both environmentalists and sportsmen work together to ensure a sustainable, humane and ethical wildlife management plan as Aldo Leopold would have wanted when he set up the Congress. And if you can’t run as a delegate, its vital that you attend to vote on the Spring questionnaire.

For the wild ones.

One Comment on On Being a Delegate for the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and Why You Should Consider Doing the Same

  1. Gary Feest says:

    Thank you so much for your service during your tenure as our representative. I’m in awe of your dedication and passion.

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