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DNR announces new, reduced customer service hours at some locations

MADISON – Hours at 14 Department of Natural Resources service centers statewide will be reduced beginning Sept. 8, 2003 as part of agency budget reduction efforts.

Ten service centers in Antigo, Baldwin, Black River Falls, Hayward, Oshkosh, Peshtigo, Sturgeon Bay, Superior, Wautoma, and Wisconsin Rapids will be open to serve the public Tuesday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. These offices will be closed to telephone inquiries and walk-in service for licenses and other matters on Mondays.

Four service centers in Ashland, Cumberland, Ladysmith, and Park Falls will be open to serve the public on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m. These offices will be closed to walk-in service and telephone inquiries on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Six regional headquarter offices in Milwaukee, Fitchburg (Madison area), Eau Claire, Spooner, Rhinelander, and Green Bay will keep current hours and remain open 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, to assure the public can reach DNR services five days a week. Five more service centers also will stay open 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday: Janesville and Dodgeville because of the need to accommodate services related to chronic wasting disease and reducing the deer herd; and Waukesha, Plymouth and Sturtevant, where walk-in customer demand is particularly heavy and increasing.

According to Vance Rayburn, customer services administrator, the reduced hours at some locations were needed to deal with a cut of 23 staff and $835,000 in funding mandated by the budget. He noted that the DNR had been running its 30 service centers with only 60 percent of the needed number of personnel recommended by an outside consultant during a 1995 reorganization of the agency.

"When DNR developed its service centers, many were opened with fewer staff than recommended. Many of our employees have skipped lunch and worked late to make sure someone was available to help the walk-in public,” he said. “But with recent cuts in positions and dollars added to long-term job freezes and other on-going reductions, we just couldn't sustain 30 centers at full hours."

Rayburn noted that in recent years DNR has implemented several service enhancements that should help meet customer needs in the face of reduced walk-in service hours:

bulletCreated an Automated License Issuance System that enables more than 1,500 business locations in and around Wisconsin to sell people hunting and fishing licenses. The system allows hunters and anglers to receive complete licensing services at any of these locations. About 90 percent of all DNR licenses are sold through this vendor network.

 

bulletMade toll-free (1-877-945-4236) license sales available 24-hours per day, seven days per week. License buyers may purchase a license over the phone with a credit card and receive a purchase confirmation number that allows them to exercise all fishing and some hunting privileges immediately while waiting for the mailed license.

 

bulletSince October 2001, customers have been able to use the Internet to purchase licenses, check on permit availability or awards, preference points, regulations, and more, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. People can find on-line licensing at the licenses and permits page of the DNR Web site. Many licenses purchased via the Internet can be directly printed by the customer.

 

bulletBegun developing a system for Internet registrations of boats, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles. The departments expects to have renewal services operational yet this year and expanded registration services on line next year.

 

Rayburn noted that cuts to services budgets have also forced the agency to end customer service at two local DNR offices not part of the service center system, Merrill and Wausaukee. He said anticipated cuts later in the year will lead to reduced hours at five additional service centers in Horicon, La Crosse, Poynette, Wausau and Woodruff.

"Our customers are very important to us, and service centers are important to local communities. We have planned to maintain centers at reduced hours rather than selecting a portion for complete closure. In that way we hope to continue our relationship with community customers," Rayburn said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Vance Rayburn - (608) 266-2241 or Marilyn Davis - (608) 267-7799

 

 

 

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