State legislators used Earth Day as an opportunity to voice concern with Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget cuts to the Department of Natural Resources after 57 DNR employees received notice they may potentially lose their jobs under the proposed budget.
In addition, the budget could cause the DNR to lose many science staff positions and would freeze purchases through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program for the next 13 years, state Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, said in the release. The Wisconsin DNR describes the stewardship program as “the acquisition of land and easements, development of recreational facilities, and restoration of wildlife habitat.”
Several representatives also offered broader criticisms of Walker’s budget as it relates to Earth Day. State Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, said in a statement that the budget cuts “would do serious harm to Wisconsin’s outdoor heritage and undo the critical work done by citizens, environmental advocates, scientists, and elected officials like Senator [Gaylord] Nelson,” the founder of Earth Day.
As a member of the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage, State Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, echoed Subeck’s priorities. He also stressed the importance of ensuring the safety of Wisconsin’s natural resources for future generations.
Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., is also seeking change on the federal level with his announcement of the Protect Our Public Lands Act, which would ban sand fracking on all public lands due to its environmental and safety hazards, according to a press release.
“Our national parks, forests and public lands are some of our most treasured places and need to be protected for future generations,” Pocan said.