Our analysis of the reorganization of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced this week by DNR Secretary Kathy Stepp starts with the belief that changes are needed to adapt to a shrinking departmental workforce and modern technological efficiencies.

We also believe that the overwhelming majority of DNR employees are so committed to protecting our invaluable natural resources they’ll do everything possible to accommodate things like changes in permit writing and fewer law enforcement staff without jeopardizing water and air quality, parks and forests.

Still, we’re worried.

Shrinking government means shrinking oversight.

It’s inevitable. And there are always interests opposed to regulations and limits on operations.

Can a smaller, sleeker DNR still guarantee those interests are balanced with the interests of people committed to protecting our environment and natural resources?

Perhaps, but more than ever it’ll be up to concerned citizens and conservation advocates to monitor these changes and make sure those protections are not weakened.