Wisconsin targets DNR magazine for elimination

wi_dnr_magRead it while you still can. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources magazine is on Gov. Scott Walker’s chopping block.

The bimonthly magazine would be eliminated as part of the governor’s budget plan, even though it would have no effect on the state’s budget.

The magazine is entirely self-sustaining by subscribers, the La Crosse Tribune says. Its former editor says this is just the latest attempt to scrub any discussion of climate science in the state.

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.

DNR managers spiked an article on how climate change affects Wisconsin mammals, as well as a piece on an endangered species whose primary habitat was around the proposed site for a controversial iron mine that was being promoted by Walker and GOP lawmakers, she said.

“I sort of got the message to stop even trying,” said Kassulke, a former Wisconsin State Journal reporter who now works for UW-Madison.

Kassulke said employees in the DNR communications office were told not to use terms like “climate change” and “global warming” when writing for publication. However, the term “our changing climate” was deemed acceptable, she said.

“That’s a ridiculous claim,” Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said in a statement. “The DNR is realigning to become more efficient and effective. This magazine is not a part of the DNR’s core mission. It is not the government’s role to produce magazines that duplicate what is available in the private market.”

The state has been publishing the magazine since 1919.