In light of COVID-19, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are closely following guidelines from the Department of Health Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
DHS recommends canceling or postponing gatherings of 10 people or more to help protect Wisconsinites from the spread of COVID-19, particularly those who are most vulnerable to infection and severe disease.
As such, the in-person portion of the 72 public meetings known as the Spring Hearings that were to be held in each county on April 13 are canceled. The public will continue to be able to to provide input on the natural resources advisory questions from the DNR, Natural Resources Board and WCC through the online input option.
The online input option will be provided through a link that will be posted on the Spring Hearing page and will go live at 7 p.m. on April 13. The online version will remain open for three days (72 hours). Results will be posted as soon as they are available.
Each year, citizens can recommend changes to natural resource issues through the submittal of citizen resolutions.
Resolutions can either be emailed to SpringHearingInfo@Wisconsin.gov or typed hard copies can be mailed to: Kari Lee-Zimmermann, Conservation Congress Liaison, P.O. Box 7921 WCC/4, Madison WI 53707-7921. All citizen resolutions must be received by close of business on April 6. Resolutions must also meet the requirements identified on the Spring Hearing webpage.
Those who complete the online input form will be able to see the resolutions that were submitted by individuals indicating they reside in that county.
“This is an unprecedented time in history and I’m glad that we have the online option so that we can continue to gather input on these important natural resource questions,” said Dr. Fredrick Prehn, chair of the Natural Resources Board.
Information about the Spring Hearing questions can be found on the DNR website (search keywords “Spring Hearings”). The link will go live until 7 p.m. on April 13.
“The recent implementation of online voting allows the WCC and its delegates the opportunity to vote without having to appear in person. Following the guidelines from state and federal agencies, members will still have the opportunity to let their voices be heard when it comes to conservation issues,” said Larry Bonde, chair of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.
“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 our citizens,” Bonde said. “We look forward to resuming the in-person meetings next year.”
In addition, two of the five WCC seats in each county are up for election.
County residents have the option to run for a seat on the Conservation Congress and to elect delegates from their county to represent their county views regarding natural resources on the Conservation Congress. Also, individuals can bring forth new conservation issues of a statewide nature to the attention of the Conservation Congress through the citizen resolution process.
“As far as the delegate elections go, we will be extending the terms of each of the WCC delegates by one year,” said Bonde. “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.”