December 2, 2016
By Central Office November 30, 2016

Contact(s): Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications,, 608-770-8084; Jim Dick, DNR spokesman,, 608-267-2773

MADISON – Following a yearlong effort to analyze staff resources and prioritize core work, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wednesday announced implementation plans for a strategic effort to better align its functions and organizational structure with the changing needs of customers and stakeholders.

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said the strategic alignment effort will help the department carry out its mission to protect Wisconsin’s natural resources more efficiently and consistently than ever before. The alignment plan reflects a variety of inputs including recommendations by internal teams, feedback from stakeholders and recognition of changing public expectations and funding sources.

“Successful organizations must periodically evaluate their priorities and structure to ensure they are serving customers effectively,” Stepp said. “In implementing this strategic alignment effort, we’ve devoted extensive effort to make sure we get it right. We also intend to continue seeking feedback so we can respond nimbly if changes are needed along the way.”

DNR started the strategic alignment effort in July 2015 to prioritize core work and align the department’s functions and organizational structure with available resources. The effort was launched against the backdrop of a growing workload and a constrained fiscal outlook. The implementation will be accomplished in phases with final changes anticipated by early 2018.

While the effort will result in improved service delivery and enhanced integration of department resources, it will require changes in job descriptions for some employees. The alignment will not result in an overall reduction in the number of jobs at DNR.

Following are a few key points regarding the overall agency and some specific program-level changes:

  • DNR’s mission is not changing and the alignment effort will not weaken environmental or conservation standards. Instead, the effort is intended to maximize how we use the staff resources we have available, working with our partners to accomplish our mission.
  • The alignment effort will involve significant changes for approximately 5 percent of the department’s 2,549 full-time employees. These changes may include changes to position descriptions, differences in reporting structure or changes in division assignments resulting from the transformation of seven operational units to five: Forestry; Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Environmental Management; Internal Services; and External Services.
  • Other employees may see lesser changes to their position descriptions or program structures. A majority of employees will see no change.
  • Responsibility for staff with law enforcement authority will be shifted to the Bureau of Law Enforcement. Law enforcement specialization will improve consistency in delivery of services and administrative efficiencies with hiring, training and policy development.
  • The Fish, Wildlife and Parks Division will manage all property management staff and functions. As a result of the changes, Fish, Wildlife and Parks will provide better customer experiences at state properties and more effectively deploy staff and equipment to perform needed habitat work.
  • Also, the department’s 19 researchers now located in the Bureau of Science Services will join other scientists within programs as well as a new Office of Applied Science within the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Division to ensure management decisions are informed by the best available science.
  • Within the Internal Services Division, a new bureau will focus on facility and property services including real estate operations and property planning.
  • Within the Environmental Management Division, staff working on water-related sediment cleanups will be combined with staff working on soil cleanups in the Remediation & Redevelopment Program to provide a more consistent approach to on-shore and in-water cleanups.
  • The External Services Division will use the department’s assured wetland delineator program as a model to develop and staff assurance programs for items such as nutrient management plan review and lake shoreline stabilization projects. This model will free staff to provide greater oversight in the field.

“The alignment process has been guided by our values of integrity, professionalism, collaboration, respect, and customer service,” Stepp said. “We remain committed to fielding a quality workforce and we are fortunate to have staff with the skills, flexibility and desire to take advantage of new opportunities created through the alignment process.”


Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Last Revised: Wednesday, November 30, 2016