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Public service requires engagement

My name is Nick Vander Puy. I'm a renegade journalist, living in the Penokees in northwestern Wisconsin — hunting, fishing and gathering. I worked as a hunting and fishing guide from 1977 to 2003 in Eagle River, Wisconsin. I take some pride in being one of the last shore lunch guides.

I've published widely in the sporting press and aired many features as a commercial and public radio journalist. I'm a member of the Wisconsin Outdoor Communicators Association, which holds an annual meeting and workshop at Trees for Tomorrow Environmental Camp in Eagle River.

At this meeting, we discuss everything in outdoor Wisconsin including big bucks and muskies, treaty rights, chronic wasting disease, the Public Trust Doctrine and gun control.

During my work as a journalist, I've come to appreciate how fragile democracy is. Our nation's founders understood this when they identified freedom of speech and the press as the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. They knew an unbridled, vigorous and antagonistic press corps is essential to protecting our freedom and responsibilities.

Which is why I'm so alarmed by a response to an invitation our association’s president, Patrick Durkin, received to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Dan Meyer to speak at our annual gathering. Meyer ignored the first request. The second time he curtly answered, “I respectfully decline the

invitation.” No reason was given for his denial.

This is a disturbing and unconscionable act for a so called public servant.

Nick Vander Puy, Mellen, Wis.

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