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Evers picks county administrator as next DNR secretary

Wisconsin DNR

Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday appointed a county administrator with a background in conservation to lead the state Department of Natural Resources.

The governor announced that Sheboygan County Administrator Adam Payne will replace Preston Cole as DNR secretary. Cole retired from the position in November.

Payne has served as Sheboygan County administrator for the last 20 years, coordinating and directing county administrative and management functions and developing the county’s annual budget. He led the county through two conservation projects, including cleaning up the Sheboygan River and harbor and purchasing and preserving the Amsterdam Dunes, 328 acres of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline.

Before Payne became the county administrator he served as executive director of the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association. He also worked for the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection from 1990 to 1995. During part of that stint he served as director of the Farmland Preservation Program.

Payne holds bachelor's degree and a master's degree in communication and urban and regional planning, respectively, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

His appointment is subject to state Senate confirmation.

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