MADISON – The state program charged with caring for Wisconsin’s endangered resources, nongame animals and State Natural Areas is taking on a new name and organizational structure to better reflect and carry out its broad mission.
As of July 1, the Bureau of Endangered Resources officially became the Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation within the Department of Natural Resources.
The name change is the most visible of several changes resulting from discussions with staff and DNR and external partners over the last six months to develop a blueprint for the future, says Erin Crain, who took over in October 2012 as bureau director.
“Our name has changed but our mission is the same,” Crain says. “We wanted a name and structure that would better reflect and support our mission to work with citizens to preserve the special places and species that make Wisconsin, Wisconsin.”
Natural Heritage Conservation staff work with citizens, private landowners and businesses to track, assess and manage nongame species; provide regulatory protection to endangered and threatened species; manage State Natural Areas to preserve the best remnants of Wisconsin’s original landscapes; and consult with other DNR partners and private landowners to help them manage their land to help maintain Wisconsin’s unique plants and animals and special places.
Changes in organizational structure and budgeting will free up money to fill vacancies in the field so that staff can respond more quickly to provide timely reviews and advice to partners and landowners to help them manage their lands to safeguard nongame species, Crain says. More field staff also will allow DNR to better manage state natural areas to control invasive species and maintain habitat for rare species, and engage more citizens and landowners in things they can do to conserve nongame species.
“Our partners told us loud and clear that they wanted more people in their communities, and we are very pleased to respond to their needs,” Crain says. “Our goal is to keep plants and animals off the endangered and threatened species list in the first place. We think having more people in the field where they can advise partners and private property owners can help us better achieve that goal.”