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1998 Wisconsin Idea Award Recipients Announced

Two people will be honored April 7 for applying the “Wisconsin Idea” to natural resource policy development and implementation. C.D. “Buzz” Besadny, former Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Elizabeth (Betsy) Likert David, resource economist at the Wisconsin DNR, will receive the Wisconsin Idea Award in Natural Resource Policy at a banquet in the Memorial Union on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

The Wisconsin Idea Award is presented annually by the School of Natural Resources in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the UW-Madison. The award honors those who have made significant contributions in the area of natural resource policy and whose efforts exemplify the “Wisconsin Idea” of communication and cooperation between the university and government for the benefit of the people of the state.

The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., with dinner served at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, in Tripp Commons at the Memorial Union. Dinner selections range from $16 to $25; please make reservations by March 30. For more information or to make reservations, contact Marianne Markgraf at the School of Natural Resources, (608) 262-8254.

C.D. “Buzz” Besadny – Wisconsin Idea Award 1998

As Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, C.D. “Buzz” Besadny linked research to natural resource policy development, working in partnership with the University of Wisconsin”s research community. During his tenure, Wisconsin passed far-reaching laws dealing with acid rain, clean water, groundwater protection, urban smog, sewage treatment, toxic pollutants, wetlands, and endangered resources.

A look at some of these accomplishments illustrates Besadny”s approach to resource management, and his application of the Wisconsin Idea.

Under Besadny, Wisconsin enacted the strongest (and one of the first) acid rain law in the United States. The law was based in part on research results from the Little Rock Lake Experimental Acidification Project, conducted with UW researchers. Besadny helped to form another partnership with the UW for the Lake Mendota Biomanipulation Project. “These were outstanding examples of how the DNR and the University brought their talents together and conducted cutting edge research,” a colleague noted.

Using data and expertise from the DNR and UW, Besadny and his staff helped to craft the nation”s strongest groundwater protection law. Under Besadny”s leadership, the DNR controlled point source discharges into the Great Lake Basin. At the same time, the agency forged a partnership with Sea Grant and UW-Extension to address research, management, non-point source pollution, and fisheries issues associated with the lakes.

“Buzz acted from the belief that to properly nurture our natural environment, policy makers need sound factual information and a keen understanding of the public”s concerns. Under his leadership, DNR and the University worked together to study problems, evaluate alternatives, and constantly seek ways to educate the public about our natural resources and how to most effectively manage and protect them,” another colleague summarized.

A native of Kewaunee, Wis., Besadny earned degrees in biology and wildlife management from the UW-Madison. He served as DNR secretary from 1980 to 1993. Besadny joined the department (then the Wisconsin Conservation Department) in 1952 as a research project leader for wildlife research, holding a variety of positions in the agency during his career. He also served as president of the Wildlife Society and the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Likert David – Wisconsin Idea Award 1998

Elizabeth (Betsy) Likert David, resource economist at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, works for that agency”s Office of Management and Budget. Her office serves the entire department, and her work benefits the entire state.

For example, Wisconsin breathes easier thanks to David”s efforts. Working with the Air Management Program, she developed a survey research approach to assess people”s knowledge, attitudes and behaviors regarding ozone pollution. According to the director of the DNR”s Bureau of Air Management, “Betsy was instrumental in designing a scientific approach for Air Management to use in analyzing people”s attitudes and behaviors. This approach…is instrumental in assisting us in designing an Ozone Implementation Plan that will be acceptable to people in eastern Wisconsin. When we started, people did not even know what ozone was, now we have an active Ozone Partners for Clean Air Program that incorporates voluntary control measures into our action plan and is recognized as a national leader.”

Fostering cooperation has been a hallmark of David”s approach to problem-solving. She pulls together people from state government, the UW, the business community, and environmental organizations to exchange ideas and explore environmental policy problems. “By facilitating this exchange, both formally and informally, David enhances government and university professionals” understanding of the issues and furthers the search for effective solutions to natural resource policy problems,” a colleague noted.

In addition to her DNR work, at the UW-Madison David has developed and taught introductory economics classes, an air policy course, a class examining emerging issues in environmental protection, and a course on business and the environment, which is the first environmental course offered by the School of Business.

David”s courses bring DNR people into classrooms, helping graduate students learn first-hand about the issues facing government. “I found Prof. David”s air policy course to be crucial to my understanding of the practical and political problems of implementing environmental policy at the state level,” a former student noted. “Prof. David”s classes have encouraged graduate students to conduct research in areas that can assist government in natural resources policy development and implementation.”

David earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Michigan. She joined the Wisconsin DNR in 1977, and is also an adjunct associate professor at the UW-Madison Institute for Environmental Studies.