What should be the chief mission of the DNR?

Gov. Mark Dayton is preparing to appoint a commissioner for the Department of Natural Resources. His choice may help determine the DNR’s approach to development, forestry and mining. Today’s Question: What should be the chief mission of the DNR?

  • The chief mission of the DNR is the conservation of Minnesota’s natural resources. The DNR commissioner ought to be a professional in the field who will prioritize the long-term health of Minnesota’s environment.

  • Jeff Straub

    The very question begs an understanding of the issue. If your house is on fire and you have five kids in separate bedrooms, Which is the priority? We have several industries and a font of recreational interests all placeing widely divergent demands on our natural resources. A proffessional resource manager knows that the only ethical course is to manage for the overall benefit of the resource so that opposing user groups can take solace in the fact that they still have a healthy resource to fight over. A politician tries to organize people into stakeholder groups and satisfy them all. This is why we need a commissioner who is a proffessional that will treat all of our resources as a top priority and manage them for the greatest good of the most people for the longest time.

  • Steve the Cynic

    The DNR commissioner should fearlessly commission the DNR.

    Seriously, isn’t the mission of the DNR something that’s a matter of state law? Why is MPR asking for the uninformed opinions of us usual suspects?

    Quoting from the DNR web site: “The mission of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is to work with citizens to conserve and manage the state’s natural resources, to provide outdoor recreation opportunities, and to provide for commercial uses of natural resources in a way that creates a sustainable quality of life.” I’m okay with that.

  • Dick Osgood

    The DNR’s mission ought to be to protect, conserve and manage the state’s natural resources for the ecologic, economic and recreation benefits they provide.

    The balance among the exploitation and conservation of natural resources is challenging.

    This is especially apparent with aquatic invasive species, which hitchhike on boats and trailers – the same vehicles that allow lake and river users to get to and enjoy our lakes. This is one area where a better balance must be found – least we risk losing the ecologic, economic and recreational benefits of our water heritage.

  • Ken

    It’s the Department of NATURAL RESOURCES. That’s it.

  • Jeff Forester

    The DNR must protect the long-term sustainability of our Water and Forest resources (future use) against the busy press of today’s use. Nowhere is this need more pressing than with Aquatic Invasive Species, which, once introduced, will destroy the fishing, and ecology of our lakes forever. We are the land of ten thousand lakes, and when we lose our lake ecosystems, we lose our brand, our identity, our future.

  • Philip

    Chief mission: enforce good stewardship of Minnesota’s natural resources so that they last for future generations.

  • Ginny

    We have a very diverse state. Hopefully the new commissioner will be well travelled and open minded to listen to area concerns and solutions. The DNR funding is limited and prebudgeted. Local Units of Government can often analyse and react to a problem quickly with DNR support and cooperation. The new commissioner needs to be willing to use all sources and partners available to meet our environmental challenges.

  • Gwen

    The mission of the DNR should be to protect our natural resources – period. We have a perfectly good Dept. of Commerce to promote commercial interests in the state. The mission of the DNR has been changed from time to time to reflect the current powers-that-be, so there is nothing sacred about the current wording. Our children deserve an environment no worse than we found it and the mission of the DNR should be to work on that proposition – and it will take a professional to accomplish that end.

  • Shane

    There should be no such thing as the DNR. The state should own much less land than it does (which would increase property tax revenue) and private land owners should be able to manage their land as they see fit.

  • Earl Brunberg

    How about simply focusing on what DNR is! With all the info on AIS now hitting us (and our waters)—shouldn’t there be a focus on that? Earl Brunberg

  • Chisholm MN

    Our next DNR commissioner should protect our lakes, rivers, streams and drinking water from toxic mining pollution.

  • Lois

    The chief mission of the next Commissioner of the DNR is to protect our natural resources of the state – lands, air, wildlife, and especially waters. We need a environment resource professional to oversee the work of the DNR. Someone who can advocate for our natural heritage resources, protect them, and ensure that industry and extraction follows Minnesota’s environmental standards and regulations. For too long we have seen the quality of our natural resources decline and suffer, and the standards in place to protect them ignored.

  • David Ludowese

    From the DNR web site (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/conservationagenda/index.html)

    Mission

    The mission of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is to work with citizens to conserve and manage the state’s natural resources, to provide outdoor recreation opportunities, and to provide for commercial uses of natural resources in a way that creates a sustainable quality of life.

  • Gail Wanner

    The DNR should protect, preserve and, where possible, enhance the natural resources of Minnesota. This includes support for research on animal behavior and the ways in which we can improve our ability to coexist with native animals. The commissioner should support scientific research done by qualified researchers, such as the ground-breaking black bear research being done by the Wildlife Research Institute in Ely, and not just work done by DNR staff. As a resort-owner, I would also like to see the DNR move to sensible state-wide or at least region-wide fishing regulations instead of the current confusing plethora of regulations for each lake. This may be scientifically beneficial but I hear many guest comment that they’re looking for other areas to fish because this is just too much for them to remember when vacationing! Thanks for the opportunity to have my say!!

  • donminnjay

    The main job of the DNR is to protect the wildlife for future generations..while still having enjoyment for todays population.

    One new ‘thing’ the DNR needs to do …is protect ‘collared research’ in northern minnesota from being killed by hunting.

    their info gotten from research, insures future healthy bear populations. we need to learn more about them..so they arent killed for nonthreatning actions..aka buff charges..eating out of garbage..clacking their mouth..etc

    dead research bears..reveal no more research.

    with a very heathy bear population..saving a few research bears out of 20,000 plus is a win-win for everybody.

    these bears need to be protected by laws..for our future generations

  • Barb Halbakken Fischburg

    DNR – Department of Natural Resources – as indicated inherently by name would logically PROTECT one of the state’s most important natural resource. LAKES – 10,000 plus certainly has made MN famous for well over a century. The DNR has recently not managed that task effectively by allowing the rapid spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) in our precious lakes at alarming rates. Zebra Mussels, Eurasian Water Milfoil, Flowering Rush, Spiney Water Fleas and others on the way are ruining our waters. Other states have far more aggressive guidelines and programs addressing AIS. Currently, infested lakes cannot be left to compromise any additional MN waters. MN needs to protect our lakes for all aspects of recreation. The DNR requires a commissioner that will prioritize our lakes as one of the state’s most valuable resource while still balancing other natural resources. Healthy lakes contribute significantly to the economic stability of our state – which MN cannot afford to compromise. A decline in the pristine quality of the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” could seriously cause economic disasters for communities and counties that depend on lake resources for their economic survival. If Aquatic Invasive Species are not swiftly halted and mitigated MN lakes will no longer serve the public for recreation and angling – tourism will falter and jobs and businesses will be affected!! MN needs a DNR Commissioner that will step up to the plate and will direct the department’s staff to make a quick turn about and more effectively address AIS! Save our lakes and let’s be the Land of 10,000 Lakes MN can be proud to share with residents and visitors alike for future generations!

  • Terrie Christian

    I agree with Dick Osgood about the balance. I would like to expand on specifics of Aquatic Invasives. What I have observed is that there is a difference in the actions taken against terrestrial invasives and aquatic invasives. When the emeral ashborer reached the state a concerted effort was implemented to prevent the spread. However, zebra mussels in our lakes has had very little preventive measures taken to prevent spread from infected waters to new lakes. I observed this same thing with the plant invasives almost 20 years ago, and since. We are rich in Minnesota more than any other state with our water resources. More must be done for prevention. This takes money. It would probably surprise most Minnesotans that not a single dollar of the Clean Water Legacy Act dollars has been spent on aquatic invasives. Part of this is because they have not been labeled as a biological pollutant by decision makers. I hope the new commissioner considers this in his/her top priorities.

  • Anne Sarver

    The DNR should be a steward. It should protect our natural resources from damage and exploitation. Stronger environmental protections should be put in place and enforced. A ‘conservative’ mentality would be greatly appreciated, don’t sacrifice the environment for a quick industry buck! Outreach to residents to make them aware of the amazing places we’ve got here in MN and the opportunities to enjoy them that are already in place.

  • Elaine

    This job is critical during a time when there are so many threats to the environment and so much political pressure to fast track any industry that promises to create job.

    The people of our state are under the impression that agencies, such as the MPCA and the DNR, are protecting our natural resources–land, air, water, forests, wildlife habitat. The problem arises when these same natural resources can be managed for logging or mining.

    The opening of a copper nickel range in the Duluth Complex of bedrock, due to the low grade disseminated nature of the mineralization and the potential for contamination from the sulfide bearing ores, would alter the entire landscape of northeast Minnesota, Yet, due to current economic conditions, there is great political pressure to permit copper nickel mining, even with its proximity to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

    Until the public wakes up to the actual scope of this proposed mining, and until the 1980’s moratorium on copper nickel mining can be re-instated in order to protect our land and water resources, the comissioner of the DNR will be in a hot heat of contention–trying to appease the lands and minerals division of the DNR which is actively promoting and facilitating mining, political pressure which is already being voiced, and the voice of the people who currently own these public lands and seek to pass on Minnesota’s northern heritage of “woods and waters fair” to future generations.

    We must all become educated on these kinds of issues, because ultimately all of government should be representative of the people’s voice.

  • James

    The Department of Nuts and Retards main job should be stewardship.

    The fact that they require a SSN to get a hunting license REALLY sits wrong with me!

    They have NOTHING to do with my retirement.

    Go plant some trees and count some fish.

    DTOM

  • Tom Weyandt

    The goal should be to remove politics and politicians from being able to control the actions of the DNR. A Missouri style non-partisan commission should be placed in control to eliminate the whipsawing that occurs regularly. The fact that this question even has to be asked is proof that the current system is not working.

  • steve

    dnr should be focusing on preserving the environment and not polluting the environment!

  • Willard M Munger, Jr.

    The chief mission of the DNR should simply to be to preserve and protect our state’s environmental resources. The state government has a huge role in helping its citizens to interact with and enjoy our natural areas and to ensure that those resources are there for future generations to enjoy.

    Willard Munger, Jr.

    Duluth, Minnesota

  • Tera G

    According to the MN DNR website, the DNR Commissioner is the administrative and executive head of the department. The commissioner has authority over public lands and waters, state parks and forests, timber, mineral resources, recreational trails, and wildlife of the state, and their use, sale, leasing, or other disposition.

    The deputy commissioner oversees all legislative and budgetary functions for the agency and has general administrative oversight of operations. The deputy commissioner also oversees several divisions and bureaus.

    Both of these appointed positions should require appropriate scientific and administrative education and experience. Politics have no place in these positions – that’s what our legislators are there for! It’s time to appoint personnel who have track records for taking strong stances in protecting the environment from zealous short-term economic gains or popular opinion. Shoreland regulations and Aquatic Invasive Species (prevention/mitigation of invested waters) have taken a back seat for far too long.

  • Just Me

    The DNR should protect Minnesota’s wildlife and natural resources from exploitation by any individual, business, or organization = public or private. Access to and enjoyment of such resources is a priveledge to be afforded to all equally under regulations designed to protect those resources for generations to come – not to be doled out for the economic or personal satisfaction of a few select interests currently deemed to be ‘worthy’ of such special treatment. Protection and presevervation should be the overriding primary priority – satifaction of human desires should be secondary and only of concern if not in conflict with the primary priority.

  • CP

    The stated mission includes the language, “… to provide for commercial uses of natural resources in a way that creates a sustainable quality of life.”

    Wouldn’t that create a conflict of interest with DNR’s approval of sulfide mining, which has a history of changing the Ph of water and leaving rivers incapable of sustaining life (as has happened in rivers in Montana)? The prospect of permanently damaging the watersheds of northern MN for the short-term profits of FOREIGN-owned mining companies is a very scary prospect.

    We need DNR leadership that keeps the “sustainable quality of life” language in mind.

  • Snoopy

    Governor Dayton and the appointed DNR Commissioner have a serious obligation to enact imperative measures to preserve and protect lakes, streams and watersheds of MN from further degradation due to aquatic invasive species. Here is a quote from Texas Fish and Wildlife:

    “Zebra mussels can attach to any hard surface and clog water intakes. They foul boat hulls and damage engines as well as boat docks, ramps and navigational buoys. They wreak havoc on the environment, negatively impacting fish and native mussel populations as well as making beaches unusuable. They also clog pipes to municipal water intakes, costing taxpayers alot of money. Each year millions of dollars are spent on fighting zebra mussels in the United states.”

    So why, then, are we in Minnesota allowing zebra mussels – as well as Eurasian milfoil, spiny water fleas and next VHS- to spread and destroy, already some of our largest and best lakes in the state, unfettered and virtually without notice?

    Gull Lake and Minnetonka now infested – and no Plan in place to prevent spread of AIS that is at crisis proportions of threat to our freshwater lakes!

    This crisis to preserve our freshwater lakes must be the First Priority of DNR and the new Commissioner, the issue is at the heart of the DNR purpose, and it is the only agency available to take the lead.

    The Sales tax Legacy money is going for land acquisition, protection of woodlands and wetlands; the Clean Water money is largely dedicated to research and identification of Impaired waters. THERE IS NOTHING FOR PRESERVATION AND PROTECTION OF OUR HEALTHY LAKES FROM AQUATIC INVASIVES.

    A new Commissioner has the authority to set up Communication and an active multi agency task force to deal with spread of invasives – it will take cooperation and resolve of Trails and Waterways (accesses), Eco Waters (AIS pollutes) and Fisheries Departments (Fisheries has the most to lose – healthy fish populations) with strong support from the Governor and the Legislature.

    Many states in the US have developed effective Prevention programs, why hasn’t MN? Don’t tell me we don’t have the funding or that we have too many lakes! That is the reason we must fund Containment and Prevention programs – BECAUSE we have these wonderful lakes that must be preserved.

  • Michelle

    James, federal law requires the collection of your SSN for hunting and fishing licenses.

  • John

    Sustainable use of our resources. Anything less makes no sense.

  • Chris

    I think the DNR should expand to include the MNPCA. The PCA doesn’t do it’s job and I think the MNDNR is better at getting things done. In order to do this however, I would like to see state agencies open job postings to everyone! Plenty of us have graduate degrees and would love to work for the state but the cronyism doesn’t allow for new people. Therefore, there are no new ideas, there are also lazy “safe-job” people who aren’t worth what they get paid.

  • What the DNR needs is a dedicated professional who will stand up to the legislature and keep them to the mission of the DNR which is to protect natural resources. Too often legislatures have wanted to relax the laws that protect our natural resources and they will try it this year as well. The new commissioner needs to be a non-political person who has a background in natural resources. This person also has to use the expertise that exists in the department and use it and back up the employees. This has been sadly lacking in the last eight years. Too many people (as evidenced by the comments on this post) don’t understand what the DNR does and what they can’t do. They didn’t allow invasives in. That’s a stupid comment. The DNR doesn’t check every shipment of goods that might contain something invasive. They can’t possibly check every single boat for anything. They don’t have enough money to get rid of everything or do everything that people want them to do. It is up to the new commissioner to help the DNR employees to accomplish more. But there are too many people out there who want to do what they want, regardless of how it affects the environment. And to make sure our existing state parks are adequately funded but not at the expense of fundng yet another new park. There’s a ton of stuff that a new commissioner needs to do because it hasn’t been done for 8 years.

  • Meg

    The DNR should focus on WATER– clean rivers, lakes, streams and aquifers. Minnesota is known as the “Land of 10,000 lakes.” Many of those lakes have become choked with weeds– they are not fit for swimming or fishing. Another example– the sediment problem occurring in Lake Pepin. We take water for granted in MN. It’s really unimaginable what’s occurring without any real sense of concern. Clean water and pristine resources are valuable MN treasures that should be managed carefully with a vision for the future well beyond Gov. Dayton’s term.

    Finally, our DNR FUNDING SOURCE SHOULD GO WELL BEYOND HUNTING AND FISHING LIS. related to game animals. I am hopeful.

  • Bev

    The DNR should protect our natural environment and ensure that we have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. The ground water in the Woodbury – Cottage Grove area is contaminated by chemicals from 3M. The ground water in SE MN is contaminated with atrazine from farm pesticides, and the MN wild rice fields are likely to become contaminated with sulfates from Polymet’s copper mining activities. What has the MN DNR done to try to protect our ground water and air? How many dangerous air quality alerts will we have in 2011? Sen Amy Klobuchar and Rep James Obestar introduced bills to sell public land near the BWCA to Polymet. Did the MN DNR do anything to block this sale?

  • Chad

    Conservation. Period.

    (P.S. Why isn’t the MPCA part of the DNR???)

  • Richard Carlson

    STOP ZEBRA MUSSELS:

    MN DNR AND MN GOVERNMENT IS FIDDLING WHILE ROME BURNS!

    THE ZEBRA MUSSEL IS THE TEN TON ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM.

    WE NEED TO DEAL WITH IT NOW, FROM FURTHER INVASION INTO OUR LAKES STREAMS AND WETLANDS!

    WE ARE AT A TURNING POINT AND NEED THE LEGISLATURE TO PASS LAWS FOR DECONTAMINATION OF BOATS DOCKS AND OTHER MARINE BASED GEAR.

    MN DNR NEEDS TO TELL THE FISHERMAN THE BIRDS & WATER FOWL HAVE BEEN PROVEN NOT TO SPREAD ZEBRA MUSSELS. THIS WAS STATED TO ME DIRECTLY BY A DNR INVASIVE SPECIES SPECIALIST A MONTH AGO.

    MN DNR MOVE OFF YOUR DEFENSIVE POSTURE AND DO YOUR JOB! THEY CONSTANTLY HIDE BEHIND WE DO WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT.

    LOOKS TO ME THAT OUR STATES VITAL WATERS ARE RUN BY POP CULTURE.

    MN DNR MUST HAVE A NEW STRATEGY FOR INVASIVE SPECIES. THE CURRENT DNR STRATEGY NOW IS DO NOTHING. IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE ME THEN TAKE THE TIME AND INVESTIGATE MY STATEMENT. YOU WILL BE ASTONISHED AND COME TO THE SAME CONCLUSION.

    MN DNR NEEDS A MORAL HOUSE CLEANING. PROTECT AND PRESERVE NEEDS TO BE REINSTATED AS THE FOCUS.

    ECONOMIC GROWTH VIA TURNING MN INTO A GAME FARM OR OUTDOOR RECREATIONAL CARNIVAL, TWISTED IN A NEW DIRECTION WITH EVERY NEW GADGET AND PRODUCT LINE IS NOT WHAT I EXPECT GOVERNMENT TO USE OUR FRAGILE WATER RESOURCES FOR.

    THERE IS SO MUCH WRONG WITH MN DNR THEY SHOULD AS ONE LOBBYIST SAID FIRE THEM ALL, TOTALLY REORGANIZE THEM!

    MOST OF ALL WE NEED GOVERNOR DAYTON AND OUR LEGISLATORS TO QUIT LISTENING TO MN DNR AND GET OUT IN THE FIELD THEMSELVES AND DO THEIR HOME WORK.

    LOOK AT WHAT OTHER STATES ARE DOING SUCH AS THE WYOMING PLAN WHICH IS A MODEL THAT WILL GIVE THE BEST CHANCE AT KEEPING SOME OF OUR REMAINING WATERS FREE OF INVASIVE SPECIE ZEBRA MUSSEL!

  • Jody Rooney

    Environmental resource protection through regulation, management, and development are fragmented in this state. This creates multiple bureaucracies with administrative redundancies. The DNR’s role in this fragmented environment has been further diminished by the Lessard Sam Outdoor Heritage Act and the LCCMR. Both of these organizations tend to be the favorite toys of a small group of legislators and interest groups who have a myopic view of their piece of the world.

    If the legislature is sincere about reducing state government and the governor is sincere about making the DNR effective then both should charge and fund the Commissioner of Natural Resources with undertaking a study of the environmental functions of all agencies including MPCA, EQB, and BSWCR and the two legislative pork pots Lessard Sam and LCCMR with a look toward consolidation.

    Each group does it’s mission in a vacuum except for gratuitous coordination meetings resulting in both wasted resources and ineffective management. Many of the problems identified above are not necessarily within the purview of one agency to solve and as we have seen coordination doesn’t result in timely solutions.

  • cafn8d

    I think the DNR’s mission statement is a fairly sound statement of what it should focus on, but DNR is a very top-heavy agency, with lots of folks “in charge” and too few people to actually do the heavy lifting. Change that, and the agency might get somewhere!

  • Jello Biafra
  • Patrick

    Humans have a tendency to manipulate natural resources in negative ways. DNR should be those who preserve, conserve, protect precious resources.

    The many resources humans manipulate have not disappeared. They are merely changed in form and location, upsetting a balance of billions of years.

    Though, in the end, the Earth will conserve itself in dealing with humans.