The Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) annual spring hearings will be held online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 spring hearings will go live at 7 p.m. next Monday, April 12, and will remain open for three days (72 hours). Results will be posted as soon as they are available.

The spring hearings are usually held with in-person gatherings in all 72 counties of the state.

The public will have the opportunity to provide input on the proposed natural resources rule changes from the DNR, and advisory questions from the Natural Resources Board (NRB) and WCC through the online input opportunity.

This year, there are 23 proposed rule changes related to fisheries and five proposed rule changes related to wildlife management. There are also advisory questions from the fisheries department, the NRB, and the WCC. All questions are available to preview at dnr.wi.gov.

Some of the WCC advisory questions include:

• Would you support legislation that would increase of cost of the Great Lakes Trout and Salmon Stamp from $10 to $15 to provide additional revenue to the State of Wisconsin Fish Hatcheries and Rearing Stations and support the Wisconsin fish propagation system?

• Would you support requiring an in-person hands-on opportunity as part of the ATV/UTV safety training?

• Would you support requiring an in-person hands-on opportunity as part of the hunter safety training for individuals over the age of 18? (Note that 6-8 hours of in-person education are already a requirement for persons under the age of 18 during non-pandemic years)

• Would you support legislative clarification that would specifically prohibit licensed professional fishing guides from providing or gifting the guide’s catch of fish to their clients? The ability to gift fish to another person would not be affected provided there is no compensation or reward.

• Would you support legalizing the harvest of white (not albino) deer statewide?

• Do you favor the DNR working with the Legislature to authorize wardens to investigate trespass complaints and issue citations when it involves recreational and natural resource trespassing?

• Do you favor the DNR working with the Legislature to restore local control by allowing counties to develop ordinances to protect their lakes, rivers and wetlands?



Local resolutions


Wisconsinites can also recommend changes to natural resource issues by submitting citizen resolutions online. Citizens can review the “Frequently Asked Questions,” click the submit a resolution button and follow the directions to enter a resolution. All citizen resolutions were to be received by 5 p.m. April 5.

Those who complete the online input form (April 12-15) will be able to see the resolutions that were submitted by individuals indicating they reside in that county.

“This has been a challenging year for everyone around the state and the country,” said Tony Blattler, chair of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. “I hope that everyone interested in the issues being discussed will use the online option to provide their input,” said Blattler. “We understand the value of the in-person meeting for discussion and sharing of ideas, but our top priority is the health and safety of Wisconsinites.”

Typically, county residents would have the option to run for a seat on the Conservation Congress and to elect delegates from their county to represent their county's views regarding natural resources on the Conservation Congress. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, 2021 elections are canceled.

“We will be extending the terms of each of the WCC delegates by another year,” said Blattler. “If a current delegate no longer wishes to serve, the seat will become vacant and the county chair can appoint someone to fill the remainder of the term.”

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress is the only statutory body in the state where the public elects delegates to advise the NRB and the DNR on how to responsibly manage Wisconsin’s natural resources for pres­ent and future generations.