DNR Hearings

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The Chippewa County Highway Department, the Sierra Company and a former member of the Altoona Lake Association testified Thursday of problems they'd encountered with projects involving the Department of Natural Resources.

Those issues seemed to boil down to inconsistencies between dealing with local governments and the DNR, or local DNR officials and the base in Madison.

"We've got double standards, we've got personality conflicts rather than sound public policy. We're trying to make a better DNR." But Senator Zien believes the problems within the DNR go beyond the definition of a wetlands and the speed it takes to issue a permit. He cites the Menards proposed expansion as an example. "Some of this is needless, it's senseless. It's scaring jobs away. It's scaring investments away."

"We believe very strongly that you can have a healthy economy and a healthy environment and that's what we're working very hard for," says regional DNR director Scott Humrickhouse. "I think we run an awfully good program. That's not to say it's perfect and that's not to say it couldn't be better. We're looking forward to the things we hear through these meetings if there are opportunities to improve our processes and make it better, we're all ears. We'd certainly be open to that.

Thursday's hearing was the second of three scheduled so far. The committee does have permission to hold two others around the state.