Wisconsin DNR policy board picks new chairman, but controversy over former leader remains

Greg Kazmierski
Courtesy: Wisconsin DNR.

MADISON, Wis. (WISC/AP) — The state Department of Natural Resources policy board has chosen a new chairman.

The board voted 4-3 on Wednesday to elevate board member Greg Kazmierski to the leadership position. He replaces Fred Prehn, who will remain on the board as a member.

According to his biography, Kazmierski, the current vice-chair, was appointed on May 1, 2011; his term is set to expire on May 1, 2023. Kazmierski, a rural Mukwonago native, is the president and owner of Buck Rub Outfitters Ltd.

Prehn’s term on the board ended last May and Gov. Tony Evers appointed Sandra Naas to replace him. But Prehn has refused to step aside for Naas, ensuring conservatives maintain their majority on the board.

Last June, Prehn told News 3 Now he would not “bow to political pressure from anybody” to step down after he said he received hundreds of emails, including death threats, for refusing to vacate the role.

RELATED: ‘This is my choice’: Despite expired term, chair of state Natural Resources Board says he’s still not leaving

“I don’t react well to threatening emails or name-calling, I just don’t,” he said at the time.

He argues he doesn’t have to leave until the state Senate confirms Naas. The Senate has made no moves toward taking a vote on her.

RELATED: Wisconsin attorney general files lawsuit to remove expired chair from Natural Resources board

The state Supreme Court is reviewing whether Prehn has a right to remain on the board.

In a brief filed earlier this month, Prehn’s attorney Mark Maciolek argued the “unfortunate standoff” between Evers and the Senate is “a non-justicable [sic] political question that even (the Supreme) Court cannot resolve,” adding the legislative and executive branches need to work together to find a solution.

Last month, Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a brief arguing Prehn is unlawfully occupying the seat, adding that since Prehn’s term has expired, he is “removable at the Governor’s pleasure.”

Online court records show oral arguments are scheduled for March 10.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.