Wisconsin DNR, Conservation Congress hearings April 8

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Fish and Wildlife Spring Hearings and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress’ annual county meetings will take place in each county at 7 p.m. Monday, April 8.

Those interested in natural resources management will have the opportunity to provide their input and testimony on proposed rule changes and advisory questions relating to conservation and fish and wildlife management in Wisconsin.

The Florence County meeting will be at the Florence Natural Resource Center in Florence. The Marinette County meeting will be in the auditorium at Wausaukee High School.

This year’s spring hearings will offer additional opportunity for the public to weigh in, through an online option for those people who can’t attend a hearing in person or who would rather provide input at the hearing using their smart phone.

For security, and to ensure the integrity of the results, individuals will be required to sign in to use the online version, just as they do in person. Those who want to attend in person can find meeting locations on the DNR website.

The 2019 Spring Hearing questionnaire and other information is available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords “Spring Hearings.”

An online input form will go live at 7 p.m. April 8 on that page and remain open until 7 p.m. April 11.

“We know there are citizens who work second shift, have little children at home, are farming or for other various reasons can’t physically be there but want to be heard,” said Larry Bonde, WCC chairman. “We are excited to provide a greater opportunity for input to those people who want to be a part of the process but otherwise couldn’t participate.”

People who attend a hearing in person but would rather provide their input using the online option instead of the paper form, can choose to get a random verifiable number at the hearing instead of an input form. The RVN can then be entered into the online form when prompted. Providing an RVN will allow your input to be compiled along with the input provided by the in-person attendees in the county meeting attended.

People who are unable to attend a hearing can still provide their input using the online tool. Responses gathered this way — without a RVN — will be compiled and considered as part of the overall input.

“We have security systems in place to identify any inappropriate use of the online system and we will continuously monitor the system for intentional misuse,” Bonde said.

The Spring Hearing input process allows the public the opportunity to comment and register their support or opposition to DNR proposed rule changes as well as Congress proposals that could someday become the rules that regulate fishing, hunting, trapping and other outdoor recreation activities in Wisconsin. The DNR this year has 49 proposed rule change questions for input.

Some of the questions that might be of interest to the region include adjusting boundary water regulations to better match Wisconsin’s largemouth bass seasons to Michigan’s, to reduce confusion among anglers; and having the Conservation Congress work with the DNR to develop a web-based application where landowners and foresters can list timber sales for loggers and timber buyers.

Citizens also may submit ideas to address conservation needs or concerns they observe through the WCC resolution process. County residents have the option to run for a seat on the Conservation Congress and to vote for the WCC delegates to represent them. However, providing input on resolutions or participating in the WCC election will continue to require in-person participation.

Those interested in attending the hearings are encouraged to review the questionnaire online before the April 8 hearings and should arrive at the hearing location early to register.