Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary Preston D. Cole has announced his retirement from Gov. Tony Evers’ administration effective Nov. 23, following a 35-year career in public service.
Evers appointed Cole to the DNR in December 2018. Prior to his appointment, Cole spent 11 years serving on the Natural Resources Board after appointments in 2007 by Gov. Jim Doyle and 2013 by Gov. Scott Walker. Additionally, Cole served as the Natural Resources Board’s chair in 2013 and 2014.
Cole previously served as commissioner of the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services and as director of operations for the City of Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works. He drew distinction for becoming the first Black forester hired by the Missouri Department of Conservation, where he began his career.
“Preston has been an integral part of my administration since day one, and we are sorry to see him go,” said Gov. Evers in a statement.
Evers credited Cole with bringing “science back to the DNR,” helping to ensure a cleaner and safer water supply in Wisconsin, tackling climate change, and supporting the state-park system and Wisconsin’s outdoor recreational economy.