Wisconsin DNR Secretary Adam Payne resigns

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Adam Payne is resigning effective Nov. 1, according to a letter he sent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers last Friday.

The former Sheboygan County administrator and conservation nonprofit executive said he’s retiring from three decades in public service to spend more time with his aging parents and four grandchildren, support his wife’s role as a caregiver and focus on his personal health.

Grey wolves remain on the federal endangered species list even while Wisconsin celebrates a successful recovery of the wolf population. 


“I was pleased and proud to help advocate for many of your key priorities, including water quality, parks, personnel, and providing more support for local units of government,” he told Evers.

Evers appointed Payne in December to a term that began on Jan. 3. Since then, he oversaw the organization’s efforts to address so-called forever chemicals, or PFAS, in drinking water and implement a new wolf management plan.

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He said he was grateful that the 2023-25 state budget provided $125 million to combat PFAS. Two weeks ago a GOP-controlled Senate committee approved a bill that would use that money to fund water-treatment facilities and drill and test wells, but Democrats have criticized the proposal for hamstringing the state’s ability to test and and enforce the cleanup of contaminants.

“I made it a priority to bolster opportunities for engaging our youth in the great outdoors, hunters’ safety, and strengthening our mentorship programs,” Payne told Evers. 


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His appointment followed clashes between Evers and the state Senate over the chamber’s unwillingness to confirm some of the governor’s appointees, including on the DNR’s policy board. Just last week the Senate fired four of Evers’ appointees to that board, leading the governor to appoint four replacements. The Senate never confirmed Payne.

Before serving in the DNR, Payne was the Sheboygan County administrator for over two decades. Before then, he was executive director of the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association. He also spent five years at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, directing its Farmland Preservation Program.


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Sen. Menendez enters not guilty plea to a new conspiracy charge

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Swift bests Scorsese at box office, but 'Killers of the Flower Moon' opens strongly

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Christopher Bell punches ticket to NASCAR championship race; wins rollercoaster race at Homestead

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