Remembering Dan Wisniewski

Bob Martini, WI Green Fire, May 28, 2020

On April 16, we lost one of Wisconsin’s conservation leaders, and a founding member of Wisconsin’s Green Fire, Dan Wisniewski. Reading his obituary, one wonders how he could have fit all those jobs into a life cut short, and he had as many conservation accomplishments in retirement as he had in his professional life. Among his many positions, Dan served as the Executive Director of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands from 1999 to 2004.

In a recent email, a friend mentioned Dan’s “trout fanaticism,” surely with the most expansive and complimentary meaning of the term, including passion, hard work, innovation, and cooperative effort. By that definition, he was also engaged in land conservation fanaticism, good government fanaticism, literature fanaticism, old growth fanaticism, and beer with friends fanaticism, among others.  He believed in sustainability, whether it was in reference to trout, forests, land, government, or friendships.

Although he was not a scientist, having been trained in journalism and English literature, he was a believer in the value of science. He regularly advised governors, senators, and county executives on how to implement science-based natural resource management. He lived the mission of Wisconsin’s Green Fire all his life. But most of all, he was just a great guy to be around, sharing a beer, or a trout stream, or a break at a board meeting.

Our sympathy goes out to the family for their loss, a loss we share in the conservation family. Having obtained a 40-acre riverfront property from the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands with Dan’s help, the Northwoods Land Trust has recently decided to name it “The Dan Wisniewski Deerskin River Preserve” in his honor. It is not a coincidence that the Deerskin River is a fine trout stream.


Bob Martini is on the Board of Directors for Wisconsin’s Green Fire and is active in many conservation groups and land trusts. Bob retired from Wisconsin DNR after a distinguished career protecting Wisconsin’s rivers.

Photo of Bob Martini

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