NREM Alumni to be Inducted into Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame

The Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame was established in 1982 to encourage the growth and practice of a conservation ethic. The 2023 Hall of Fame induction will be held virtually April 25 afternoon. For more details about the free events, visit

Mike Dombeck will be inducted in 2023. He is regarded as a great example of a conservationist who spent both his career and personal lives dedicated to making the natural world a better place. He had the courage of his convictions.

Michael Dombeck led America’s two largest land management agencies: the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. He received degrees in biology and teaching from UW-Stevens Point.

Dombeck dedicated 25 years to managing federal lands and natural resources on nearly 500 million public acres. He grew up in Sawyer County and by age 15, was taking tourists fishing. He joined the U.S. Forest Service in 1978 as a fisheries technician and became a primary architect for integrating aquatic and fisheries protection and recreation policies on 193 million acres of national forests. In 1989, he joined the Department of Interior and was science adviser, then acting director of the Bureau of Land Management. He created a long-term vision for advancing ecosystem management and watershed protection and restoration.

He became U.S. Forest Service chief in 1997, where he led the development of a national resource agenda focusing on watershed health and restoration, recreation and sustainable forest management. Under his leadership, a long-term forest roads policy was established. The Roadless Rule of 2001 protected 58 million acres of the most remote national forest lands from road building and other development.

One of the most respected and renowned conservationists today, Dombeck is recognized for forging partnerships and crafting policies that integrated economics, science and watershed protection to manage federal lands in the long-term public interest.

Dombeck returned to UW-Stevens Point in 2001 as a UW System fellow and global conservation professor, sharing his expertise with students, early career scientists and conservation organizations. He has authored and edited more than 300 conservation articles and books. He and his wife live in Portage County.