HomeUSA newsWisconsin Department of Natural Resources Chief Preston Cole Retires After 4 Years...

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Chief Preston Cole Retires After 4 Years on the Job

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The head of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is retiring after four years in office, Gov. Tony Evers announced Friday.

Preston Cole has served as the department’s secretary since Evers took over in 2019. Cole will retire on Wednesday, giving Evers the chance to pick a new agency head for his second term.

“Preston has been an integral part of my administration since day one and we are sorry to see him go,” Evers said in a statement.

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Evers spokesman Britt Cudaback said a replacement would be named as soon as possible.

Under Cole’s leadership, the agency has launched efforts to control contamination from chemicals known as PFASs, instituted a new wolf management plan that places no limits on how many can be killed and emphasized clean water initiatives.

Preston Cole, director of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, is retiring after four years in office.

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Cole’s tenure was also marked by the refusal of DNR board member Fred Prehn, who was appointed by former Governor Scott Walker, to resign after his term ended. The conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Prehn can stay on the board until his successor is named, which the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate has refused to do.

Cole was confirmed by the Senate after having been in office for a year.

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Before leading the department as secretary, Cole served 11 years on the Natural Resources Board, including two years as chair in 2013 and 2014. He began his career with the Missouri Department of Conservation, where he was the first black ranger. He also served as a commissioner for the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services and as director of operations for the Milwaukee Department of Public Works.

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