Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame to induct Walter Bresette, Lewis Posekany

Walter Bresette and Lewis Posekany will be inducted posthumously in the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame. The induction ceremonies will be held virtually April 17.

Paul A. Smith
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Walt Bresette will be inducted posthumously in 2024 in the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame.

The Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame will hold a virtual ceremony April 17 to honor its 2024 inductees, Walter Bresette and Lewis Posekany.

The WCHF was established in 1985 to advance the conservation legacy of Wisconsin.

One-hundred ten members have been inducted since its inception, including Aldo Leopold, John Muir and Gaylord Nelson. The nonprofit organization is located in the Schmeeckle Reserve Visitor Center on the UW-Stevens Point campus.

Its 2024 class will be inducted posthumously.

Bresette (1947-1999) was a member of the Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe, U.S. Army veteran, business owner and treaty rights activist who emerged as a leader during the spearfishing controversies of the 1980s.

He also founded or co-founded several organizations including Witness for Nonviolence, the Midwest Treaty Network, and the Wisconsin Green Party. Active in mining issues over many years, Bresette worked to prevent a mine from being constructed in Crandon and to get the Mining Moritorium Law enacted.

He also used nonviolent means to protect wild rice beds from potential danger due to trains carrying sulfuric acid through the Bad River watershed.

Bresette's Ojibwe name was Makoons, or "Little Bear."

"He worked to protect the earth and his people's rights like a mother bear protects her cubs," said a PBS documentary on Bresette's life and legacy. "He embodied an intelligent and inclusive model of activism that serves as an example for human rights activists today."

Lew Posekany will be inducted posthumously in the 2024 class of the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame.

Posekany (1916–2004) was born in Milwaukee and earned degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Stanford University.

After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Posekany was hired as a fisheries biologist at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the start of a 49-year career with the agency.

Posekany is remembered as a champion of wild rivers and partnered with the Izaak Walton League to protect the Namekagon River from a hydroelectric project. His work helped the Namekagon and St. Croix rivers attain federal "wild and scenic" designation.

He was also an expert on the public land and water rights and was adviser and featured speaker for a public television documentary, “Champions of the Public Trust,” on the evolution of the public trust doctrine for Wisconsin waters.

Posekany was an environmental advocate long before advocacy was popular and often functioned as his own legal counsel in projects to help protect the state's waters, according to the WCHF.

The April 17 inductions will feature speeches and presentations on a virtual platform to be announced. Bresette will be honored at 5 p.m. and Posekany at 6:30.

For additional information on the WCHF and the 2024 ceremony, visit www.wchf.org.