Wisconsin Mixed Bag: Wisconsin Republicans in State Senate reject Gov. Evers’ NRB appointee – Outdoor News

Madison (AP) — The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate voted Feb. 20 to reject Todd Ambs, one of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ four appointees to the state’s Natural Resources Board (NRB).

The Senate voted along party lines to reject Ambs to the NRB. Ambs was the only one of four Evers appointees rejected by a Senate committee following a tense public hearing last fall. All four most recent appointees were forwarded by Evers after the Senate in September rejected all four previous DNR board appointees.

The Senate did confirm Patty Schachtner, Robin Schmidt and Douglas Cox to the NRB. That trio replaced three previous Evers appointees whom the Senate refused to confirm last fall.

Ambs served as deputy secretary of the DNR before retiring in December 2021. Ambs was questioned by GOP lawmakers at a December hearing about his online criticism of the Republican Party. Ambs said at that hearing that he would make “no apologies” for speaking out against former President Donald Trump.

Republican Sen. Mary Felzkowski said members of the board needed to show that they could work with Republicans and Democrats. Ambs rejected the notion that he can’t work with Republicans, saying in a statement after the vote that he has spent more than four decades working with both parties on a variety of conservation issues.

“I know how to work in a bipartisan manner,” Ambs said. “The majority party in the Wisconsin State Legislature does not.”


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Evers Names Dassow to Replace Ambs on NRB

Madison — Deb Dassow, a former high school teacher at Port Washington High School, attended her first meeting of the Natural Resources Board (NRB) on Wednesday, Feb. 28. She was appointed by Gov. Tony Evers following the Wisconsin Senate’s Feb. 20 rejection of Evers appointee Todd Ambs to an NRB seat.

Dassow taught for nearly 40 years as a social studies and world studies teacher at Port Washington High School. Dassow’s initial interest in natural resources and the environment started as a student at UW-Stevens Point. She has previously been a member of environmental and conservation organizations like the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT). Statements on the OWLT website indicate the land trust supports and allows hunting on its property.

Ambs had been a career natural resources leader at the River Alliance and DNR deputy secretary prior to his December 2021 retirement.

The State Senate refused to confirm Ambs, claiming he couldn’t work with Republicans, while Ambs countered, “That allegation is patently false. They cannot cite a single instance where that has been the case. On the contrary, I have spent more than four decades working in Wisconsin, Ohio and across the nation with members of both parties on a variety of important conservation policy issues.”

— Tim Eisele

Assembly Approves Nonresident Hunting, Fishing License Fee Hikes to Help Close Deficit

Madison (AP) — The Assembly passed a bill Feb. 22 that would raise a variety of nonresident hunting, fishing and trapping license fees to help shrink a deficit in the DNR fish and wildlife account.

The Assembly passed the legislation 97-0, sending it to the Senate.

The DNR estimated the changes would raise about $780,000 annually for the account, which funds projects ranging from fish stocking to wildlife surveys. The account is built largely on license fees. The DNR has projected a $16 million deficit heading into the state’s next two-year budget period.

Republican lawmakers raised nonresident deer hunting licenses by $40 to $200, nonresident hunting and fishing license fees by $5 and nonresident combination licenses by $20 in the state budget that Gov. Tony Evers signed in the summer.

The license increases range from $1 on a nonresident two-day sports fishing license to a $5,750 hike for a nonresident commercial fishing license. The Assembly approved a bill Feb. 20 that would raise nonresident bow hunting license fees by $35 to $200, sending the measure to the Senate.

Assembly OKs Bucks-Only Bill in North

Madison (AP) — Hunters in northern Wisconsin would be barred from shooting any does for four years starting this fall under legislation the Wisconsin Assembly approved Thursday, Feb. 22.

Republican bill authors hope the measure helps rebuild the northern herd after an anemic nine-day gun hunt in November. Kids under 16 who participate in a youth deer hunt would be allowed to kill a buck or doe, but would be limited to one deer.

According to the DNR, the 2023 northern buck kill was down 14.7% from the five-year average; the doe kill down 27.2%.

The Assembly passed the measure on voice vote. The legislation goes next to the state Senate.

DNR OKs Brule River State Forest Variance for More Barrens Habitat Acreage Work

Madison — The DNR approved a variance to the Brule River State Forest plan to allow more barrens habitat management in the Mott’s Ravine area by increasing the acres of core area from between 200 and 400 acres to between 1,000 and 1,200 acres.

The approved variance applies only to lands owned in fee title by the DNR, while the proposed variance would have also applied to lands acquired later. After reviewing public comments, the DNR determined that the management of lands not owned in fee title was outside the scope of the variance.

The Brule River State Forest in Douglas County contains all 44 miles of the Bois Brule River.

Source: https://www.outdoornews.com/2024/03/01/wisconsin-mixed-bag-wisconsin-republicans-in-state-senate-reject-gov-evers-nrb-appointee/