WCC strategic plan gains tractionWAUSAU, Wis. — After seven months of intense deliberations by a select group of committee members, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress is well on its way to approving a Strategic Plan for the organization. The WCC Executive Council approved unanimously the 37-page plan at its Jan. 4-5 meeting in Wausau.
By: By Lee Fahrney, Superior Telegram
WAUSAU, Wis. — After seven months of intense deliberations by a select group of committee members, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress is well on its way to approving a Strategic Plan for the organization. The WCC Executive Council approved unanimously the 37-page plan at its Jan. 4-5 meeting in Wausau.
The proposal will advance to the entire delegation for final consideration at the annual meeting in Eau Claire in May.
Founded by Aldo Leopold and a few other prominent Wisconsin conservationists more than 78 years ago, the Congress had heretofore never considered the need for an in-depth study of its goals, strategies and tasks. “The Congress has remained vigilant about natural resource protection throughout its history,” said WCC chair Rob Bohmann. “But our cultural is changing, and we need to keep up with the times.”
Congress vice chair Larry Bonde of Kiel said the planning process gave delegates an opportunity to offer their thoughts about the way the organization should function.
“Every member (of the committee) brought something to the table,” Bonde said. “As a result, I see a more engaged Congress and one that is very transparent and accountable.”
The committee’s analysis included opportunities and challenges before the organization. Here are some of those opportunities:
• Use of citizen-based monitoring and research in wildlife management
• Incorporation of technology into organizational activities
• Promotion of sustainable lifestyles including the concept of “locavores.”
• Increased partnering with other groups, e.g. forestry
• Educate, recruit and retain youth and other underrepresented groups
• Work at “tweaking” Act 21 (administrative rule-making process) to bring citizen recommendations to fruition in a timely manner
• Increase citizen satisfaction with WCC processes regarding environmental issues
• Create awareness of the purpose and activities of the organization
• Strengthen the relationship with the Natural Resources Board and the Department of Natural Resources
• Establish and maintain representation on the boards and committees of other organization
• Responding appropriately to negative press
• Diversifying and broadening research initiatives
• Providing delegates with enough background information to make informed votes and accurately convey to the public the relevant facts on issues
• Ensuring local delegations understand their roles and responsibilities.
Several senior delegates to the Congress are among the most enthusiastic regarding the initiative. Ralph Fritsch was first elected to the Congress in 1978 in Milwaukee County, then, due to career moves, in Outagamie County and currently in Oconto.
“The planning process was a great opportunity to take a look at the inner workings of the Congress,” Fritsch said. “I think in the long run you’re going to see a lot more interest in the Congress and the role it plays in the legislative and administrative rule process.
With 360 delegates throughout the state of Wisconsin elected by the public in each county, the official purpose of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress is to advise the Natural Resources Board and the Department of Natural Resources on how to best manage the state’s natural and wildlife resources. It is the only statutorily authorized body of its kind in the state charged with this advisory capacity.
Established in 1934, the Congress was elevated in 1972 through state statutes to its legally-recognized status. The WCC represents citizens’ interests by providing an avenue for input on a variety of natural resources issues. One way the WCC does this is through presenting advisory questions to citizens at annual Spring Hearings (currently held in each county on the second Monday in April).
Citizens also use the Spring Hearings to suggest ideas in the form of resolutions calling for changes to natural resources policy or law. The citizen votes on the advisory questions and proposed rule changes are reviewed and voted upon by Congress delegates during their annual convention, normally held in May. Advisory questions that are supported are forwarded to the NRB for consideration.
For 2013, the annual spring hearings will be held at 7 p.m. April 8. Interested citizens may view the questionnaire on line a few weeks prior to the spring hearings at www.dnr.wi.gov. Click on “Conservation Congress.”
Or, contact any member of your local county delegation for more information about how citizens can become involved in the resolution process or become a delegate to the organization.
Lee Fahrney serves on the executive committee of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.