Water Hero: Gordon Stevenson

“I am a 26 year veteran of the Wisconsin DNR. I served as the Chief of Runoff Management until retiring in 2011.”
Waterways statewide
Black Earth, WI

How do you work to protect Wisconsin’s waters?
While serving as the Chief of Runoff Management for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, I had overall responsibility for voluntary, regulatory, agricultural and urban programs related to nonpoint source water pollution abatement in Wisconsin.

My professional expertise includes watershed-based water resource protection and control of diffuse water pollution sources. In particular, I have been an architect of Wisconsin’s environmental programs that apply to Wisconsin’s extensive livestock industry. From 1990 through 2003, I served as President of the Board of Directors of the Aldo Leopold Foundation. I currently serve on the Board of Directors for Midwest Environmental Advocates.

What are your biggest concerns right now?
Our most serious sources of environmental problems in Wisconsin have been—and remain to be—agricultural. At present, Wisconsin’s conventional agricultural systems produce massive volumes of food and fiber. Those systems also pollute surface water and groundwater. They lose precious topsoil. The Dead Zone in Green Bay, the undrinkable groundwater in the Central Sands and the pathogen-infused drinking water supplies in Kewaunee County are among the many tragic results of an industry that now aspires to “feed the world.” The price of doing that is too high.

Aldo Leopold said it much more poetically than I can: “The oldest task in human history is to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.”

What keeps you strong and inspired in the face of challenges?
I am inspired by the growing number of Wisconsin farmers who practice sustainable agriculture.

What’s your favorite “water spot” in Wisconsin?
All the little lakes in the American Legion-Northern Highlands State Forest with walk-in boat landings. The Lower Wisconsin River.

More information:
Midwest Environmental Advocates

Learn about other Water Heroes in Wisconsin:
River Alliance Water Heroes – 2018