DNR Secretary talks shoreline zoning, deer population - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

DNR Secretary talks shoreline zoning, managing the deer population

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WAUSAU (WAOW)--DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp has only been on the job seven months, but she's got big plans for the state. She's focusing on improving customer service and increasing transparency at the agency.

"My job now coming into this role is really to bring the private sector management methods into this agency," she said.

She said the DNR is working with Wisconsinites and listening to their concerns, hoping to save time and money. Another goal, improve the perception of the DNR.

"Unfortunately fair or unfair, a lot of folks have a perception of our agency that we're the agency of 'no you can't' and we want to change that to 'here's how you can."

Stepp says she's committed to balancing environmental and wildlife concerns with human and social ones. Take managing the deer herd for example. The DNR scrapped Earn-A-Buck because it was unpopular.

"When we stop allowing deer hunting to be fun, we're going to be in a world of hurt when it comes to managing our herd. We have got to be much more inclusive of our sporting men and women out there who are the most effective tools and partners in deer hunt management," she said.

We also asked her about communities dealing with failing dams, including the Whiting and the draw down of McDill Pond. Stepp said  it's not an unfamiliar scenario. "While our agency isn't necessarily responsible for economic impacts when we have to do things like that in the interest of safety and environmental concerns, I think we should be always mindful of those things."

When it comes to shoreline management, Stepp said it's been at the top of her list since starting at the DNR. She acknowledged that there are problems, saying "This particular rule is that it works in some communities and not for others." She cited that in some cases, the new rule applies to one property, but not another on the same body of water. She said she's working to improve the rule, and eliminate confusion.

The DNR is not immune to criticism. Stepp herself spoke out against the agency before assuming the role of secretary, but said she's learned it's importance from the inside.

"There's a lot that the public doesn't see that goes on behind the scenes," she said.

Stepp added that she's committed to improving transparency and the online presence of the agency as the DNR Secretary.

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