Byron Shaw and Mike Dombeck are among inductees to the 2023 Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame with ties to UW-Stevens Point. (Contributed)

UWSP conservationists chosen for Hall of Fame

All three men being inducted into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame this spring have ties to UW-Stevens Point and have spent their lives protecting natural resources.

Inductees are:

  • Byron Shaw, soil and water science professor in the College of Natural Resources, who was among the first in the nation to recognize that pesticides used on farm fields could leach through the soil to contaminate groundwater.
  • Michael Dombeck led America’s two largest land management agencies: the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. He received degrees in biology and teaching from UW-Stevens Point.
  • Mark Martin and Susan Foote-Martin have protected, restored and enhanced appreciation of natural resources during their careers and volunteering. Mark Martin graduated from UW-Stevens Point in 1971 with a degree in wildlife management.

The 2023 Hall of Fame induction will be held virtually April 25.

“I am especially pleased to see Byron Shaw and Mike Dombeck inducted this year,” said Christine Thomas, dean emeritus of the UWSP College of Natural Resources. “They are great examples of conservationists who spent both their careers and their personal lives dedicated to making the natural world a better place. These are two men who had the courage of their convictions. It was my personal honor to have been friends and colleagues with both.”

Few scientists have contributed more to knowledge about water quality than Shaw, who died in 2016. He earned his degrees from UW-Madison and joined UW-Stevens Point in 1968.

In 1980, Shaw documented the presence of aldicarb, a pesticide used on potatoes, in wells in Portage County. This evidence was among the first in the nation recognizing that pesticides used on farm fields could leach through the soil to contaminate groundwater. His work contributed to passing Wisconsin’s landmark groundwater protection law in 1984 and led to state law banning aldicarb.

Shaw established the Environmental Task Force Laboratory (now the Water and Environmental Analysis Lab) to address soil and water quality problems, train students as water chemists and generate grants to support student research.

Shaw also was the first to find acid rain and acid snow in Wisconsin. He pioneered one of the first major agricultural watershed and reservoir modeling efforts in the nation on the Big Eau Pleine reservoir in Marathon County.

The Eau Pleine research and other research on subdivision effects on groundwater quality led to changes in public policy. As a water resource specialist with UW-Extension, he traveled the state to educate citizens about private well water quality and lake management.

Dombeck is one of the most respected and renowned conservationists today. He is recognized for forging partnerships and crafting policies that integrated economics, science and watershed protection to manage natural resources on nearly 500 million acres in the long-term public interest.

Dombeck joined the U.S. Forest Service in 1978 as a fisheries technician and became a primary architect for integrating aquatic and fisheries protection and recreation policies on 193 million acres of national forests. He joined the Department of Interior in 1989, was science adviser, then acting director of the Bureau of Land Management.

He became U.S. Forest Service chief in 1997, where he led the development of a national resource agenda focusing on watershed health and restoration, recreation and sustainable forest management. Under his leadership, a long-term forest roads policy was established. The Roadless Rule of 2001 protected 58 million acres of the most remote national forest lands from road building and other development.

Dombeck returned to UW-Stevens Point in 2001 as a UW System fellow and global conservation professor, sharing his expertise with students, early career scientists and conservation organizations. He and his wife live in Portage County.

Mark Martin and Susan Foote-Martin have centered stewardship on Goose Pond, a nature sanctuary operated by the Madison Audubon Society in Columbia County. As resident managers and volunteers, they have protected and restored this mesic prairie habitat, which has grown from 100 to 730 acres.

Mark Martin worked for the state Department of Natural Resources for 41 years on wildlife research projects and prairie restoration to improve wildlife cover. He coordinated land purchases of more than 30,000 acres for State Natural Areas across Wisconsin and helped write grants generating $13 million for State Natural Area land protection and management.

As part of the DNR’s Bureau of Endangered Resources, Susan Martin created the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail. She helped establish Bird City Wisconsin, a nationwide model. She assisted with state-listing Wisconsin cave bats as “threatened” because of white-nose syndrome.

For more details about the free Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame induction, visit https://wchf.org/2023-induction-events/

The gallery of inductees is located in the Schmeeckle Reserve Visitor Center at UW-Stevens Point.