Shuttering of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine has press, environmentalists up in arms
Nearly 100 years old, and supported by paid subscribers, the magazine is seen as falling victim to a Republican administration seen as supporters of business, but weak on the environment and skeptical of science
The possible shuttering of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine has a wide range of people upset at the administration of Gov. Scott Walker. The subscriber supported magazine, published by the Department of Natural Resources, has been in the crosshairs of the administration that is known as not particularly friendly to the environment, and fierce deniers of climate change.
The bi-monthly magazine has a subscriber base of 88,000, pretty healthy for a regional magazine, one founded nearly 100 years ago.
But the move by the Walker administration is one being mirrored by the new president, where websites that mention climate change are being scrubbed, and scientists at many federal agencies have been scrambling to save their data before new administrators can order staff to delete the material. The sort of data saving was seen even before the new president was inaugurated when Archive.org began duplicating its digital archives, including the Wayback Machine, onto servers located in Canada, for fear that their treasure trove of archived websites might be lost.
As for Wisconsin Natural Resources, the magazine obviously still has it fans, if judged by the number of bloggers and journalists upset with its possibly shuttering:
In its budget last week, the Walker administration said ending the magazine would save $300,000 in fiscal 2018-’19 and eliminate two full-time positions. Wisconsin Natural Resources has a circulation of about 75,000, including 40,000 people who receive the magazine when they buy a $165 conservation patron license, which includes multiple fish and game licenses.
In a statement, Walker’s spokesman Tom Evenson said, “It is not the government’s role to produce magazines that duplicate what is available in the private market.”
But the former editors say the magazine allowed the DNR to highlight natural resources issues the agency was working on and gave the agency a platform to communicate to the public and champion the natural charms of the Badger state.
Also, they said the publication has supported itself through subscription sales — DNR officials do not dispute this — and that the two positions that the Walker administration says it will cut are vacant.
Here’s how deeply the right-wing, anti-science, GOP Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will reach into state service to kill off a long-standing source of easily-accessible environmental information, and force two workers from their jobs, in a bit of post-Act 10, ant-state worker ‘achievement.’
Though its costs were completely covered by subscribers, and the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine had a long and useful run, climate change denier Scott Walker and his “chamber of commerce mentality” DNR mission-saboteur Secretary Cathy Stepp are using the state budget to wipe out the credible, high-quality publication…
The magazine covers hunting, fishing and the science behind the DNR’s work and the efforts of volunteer conservation groups. When the state began publishing it in 1919, it was called The Wisconsin Conservationist.
After Walker took office in 2011, his appointees and other top managers at the DNR insisted on seeing every article before publication, said Natasha Kassulke, who left the DNR last summer after 15 years, including five editing the magazine.
The scrutiny grew tighter after the magazine carried a special section on climate change produced by the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, Kassulke said.