MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced Jim Fischer, DNR Mississippi River Team Leader, was presented the 2021 Rebecca Wallace Memorial Award from the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board during their meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022.
This prestigious award honors DNR employees who improve relationships with external partner agencies and organizations on environmental quality issues or mentor staff. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board created the award as a memorial to DNR employee Rebecca Wallace, who was tragically killed alongside her husband in an automobile accident in 1997. Wallace served at the DNR for 18 years and was known for her dedication to her work and her ability to bring people together to problem solve.
Fischer began his career with the DNR as a water quality specialist at the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Monitoring Station in January 1993. In 2005, he became the Mississippi River planner and transitioned into his current position as team leader in 2011 where he serves as the DNR’s lead on the Upper Mississippi River Restoration program, administering critical environmental monitoring and habitat restoration programming.
“Fischer has spent his career dedicated to building the world-renowned Upper Mississippi River Restoration program, resulting in Wisconsin’s portion of the Mississippi River being in a healthier more resilient condition,” said Kirsten Wallace, Executive Director of the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association.
Fischer is well-known for his ability to develop and foster partnerships across a wide range of state, federal and non-governmental organizations. He understands the ecological needs of the Mississippi River and is a proven leader and mentor.
“Fischer was instrumental in developing the Upper Mississippi River Restoration long-term monitoring program to assess and measure the river’s ecological characteristics,” Wallace said, reflecting on Fischer’s impact. “He is a leading voice in regional, interstate collaboration to better connect and integrate planning and management of water resources in the watershed and in the river.”
Many of Fischer’s team members respect him as a trusted mentor, advisor and peer.
“Fischer is a people-person and knows that the resource management actions we take are done in concert with the diverse community we represent from anglers, bird hunters and watchers, canoe and kayakers, businesses, navigation industry and others, which make up the fabric of the complex Mississippi River ecosystem,” said Stephen Galarneau, DNR Office of Great Waters Director and Fischer’s supervisor. “Jim values that diversity and does not see that complexity as a hindrance but rather an opportunity for action and a shared passion for the resource.”