The WDNR has announced plans to shut down the MacKenzie Center in 6 months,(http://dnr.wi.gov/news/breakingnews_lookup.asp?id=2658). terminating its contract with the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation/Friends of MacKenzie to run the Center. The MacKenzie Center is not a dying facility – it is a thriving, growing, vital environmental education facility with a dedicated and motivated staff, a vigorous Friends group, and countless community supporters. Its programs have been growing and expanding to serve an ever increasing diversity of user groups. Its education curriculum has been evolving into exciting and cutting edge areas of environmental education. Its wildlife exhibit has a robust internship program, with multiple year-round interns from Wisconsin universities, eager to gain experience at a facility that focuses on natural diets and environmental enrichment for non-releasable native Wisconsin wildlife in need. Where else can a child go to build a campfire, identify prairie plants, tap a maple, go geocacheing with a GPS unit, practice archery, and look a wolf in the eye? The wildlife exhibit is home to 23 species of non-releasable native Wisconsin wildlife, including large carnivores, ungulates, and raptors. These animals require specialized diets, veterinary care, and enrichment. The six month timeline with no plan for the future of the animals is deeply troubling. The MacKenzie Center is also the DNR’s cheapest environmental education center to fund, based on cost per student served. The DNR is attempting to make these changes without any public input. This is against the DNR’s own policies, which also require a Master Plan be approved by the Natural Resources Board. The DNR has not developed a Master Plan for these changes, nor sought any input from the local community and participating schools and groups. Please help to preserve this wonderful facility for future generations and prevent a Wisconsin treasure from being destroyed. Please act quickly, as the coming days and weeks will determine the future of the MacKenzie Center. Your voice really can make an impact: public comments to the Natural Resources Board played a crucial role in preventing the DNR from shutting down the MacKenzie Center in the past and helped pave the way for the current partnership.
You can also come show your support of the MacKenzie Center by attending the Natural Resources Board meeting on February 27th (note: attendees must sign up by 4pm on Tues 2/19 by emailing Laurie.Ross@Wisconsin.Gov).
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