Bob is the chairperson of the Oneida County Conservation Committee and has served the board for six years. He is also the chairperson of the Health and Aging Committee, member of the Administration Committee, vice-chair Oneida Vilas County Transit Commission and a supervisor on the Schoepke Town Board. Bob lives with his wife in a cottage on Pelican Lake and is an avid outdoorsman.
What previous experiences/education prepared you for your position on the Conservation Committee?
In the 1970s, I was on the board of one of the first Lake Districts in Wisconsin – Horsehead Lake – where my wife and I had a cottage. We moved to a Pelican Lake cottage in 1985, where I became an active lake association member and eventually a board member. I am still the grant writer for the Pelican Lake Property Owners Association. We have permanently lived on Pelican Lake since 2007.
What made you decide to run for County Board?
I like being involved and I felt that furthering conservation ideas and protections at the county level could help my district, which covers much of eastern Oneida County, and its people, forests, and lakes.
Why do you think it is important to be active on the Conservation Committee?
The conservation committee protects county resources that generate millions of dollars in tourism for Oneida County. The economic argument is one. The “Do the Right Thing” argument is another. Through the services offered to Oneida County residents and non-resident land owners, the Oneida County Land and Water Conservation Department leads the way in conserving what so many people from around the United States come here to enjoy – our natural resources.
Recently our Conservation Department and Planning and Development Department merged after a year’s trial. I feel that the two complement each other and will give a stronger voice to protected development in our county.
What does the future of Wisconsin conservation look like?
Conservation in Wisconsin is under siege. Pro development and business first attitudes pervade the government leadership. Without strong leadership in organizations like Land+Water, the state’s conservation heritage is threatened. I am an optimist. I believe that the people of Wisconsin, when informed with science based knowledge, will protect what makes Wisconsin great. A recently formed group called Green Fire will provide science based information on conservation related questions that now face the state and require sound decision making. Many of the members are former DNR and University scientists and researchers whose knowledge gained over their careers are an invaluable resource.
How would you improve the state of conservation in Wisconsin?
I would encourage involvement of citizens who care about our lakes, rivers, farmlands, and forests to speak up and demand that conservation be part of the discussion in any and all decisions regarding our natural resources. I would also ask those people to run for public office.
What is your county’s most valuable natural resource?
Oneida County has over 1,100 lakes, many miles of streams, thousands of acres of state and county forests. We have a wealth of natural resources that are being managed for the public. Our county forests are being harvested in a responsible way to provide jobs for our loggers and mills to provide wood products for the nation and world. Our waterways provide recreation for our citizens and those who visit. Last year, we had a $221 million tourism industry in Oneida County. Conservation of and responsible use of those resources will ensure a continuance of that economic driver in Oneida County. Conservation and the economy are not enemies. The key is exercising responsibility through responsible governing.
What is one interesting fact about your county that few may know?
Here are three:
- Oneida County had the first UW Extension agent in the state of Wisconsin. E.L. Luther was hired to serve Oneida County in 1912.
- Oneida County has an organic cranberry farm.
- Through its Conservation Department, Oneida County is heading a pollinator campaign to protect and increase pollinators by planting of pollinator gardens throughout the county, including on the courthouse grounds.
What is your favorite outdoor activity in your county?
Hiking, biking, and fishing are my favorite activities.