Dayton appoints Frederickson and Lessard to DNR posts

Gov. Mark Dayton announced today that former GOP state Sen. Dennis Frederickson will be southern director for the Department of Natural Resources. He also announced that former Sen Bob Lessard will be a senior adviser to DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. Chris Niskanen, the outdoors writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, will also be communications director for the DNR.

Frederickson served as a state Senator from 1980 – 2010. He decided against running for reelection. Lessard served in the Minnesota Senate from 1976 – 2003. He was a member of the DFL Party and the Independence Party during his time in office.

Niskanen is a prominent outdoors writer who worked for the Pi Press for 17 years.

“We went out and found the very best people we could to lead us into the future,” said Landwehr in a news release. “I’m very excited about leveraging their skill and experience to better reach out to the people of Minnesota and represent their needs and concerns.”

Here’s part of the release:

DNR assistant commissioners include: Assistant Commissioner for Legal and Government Affairs Mary McConnell. She formerly served as vice president and general counsel of Polaris Industries Inc. and previously held a similar role at Genmar; Assistant Commissioner for Customer Relations and Outreach Erika Rivers, a seven-year DNR employee who was most recently project manager for the Lake Vermilion State Park development; and Assistant Commissioner for Field Operations and Community Outreach Mike Carroll, previously director of the Northwest Region and former director of the Division of Forestry.

Regional directors include: Southern Region Director Dennis Fredrickson, a 30-year state senator with extensive experience in natural resource legislation; Central Region Director Keith Parker, a media and community relations professional formerly with Twin Cities Public Television as director of Minnesota Partnerships; and Northeast Region Director Craig Engwall, who has held that position since 2006. The Northwest Region directorship is currently vacant.

DNR’s new communications director is Chris Niskanen, who served as outdoors editor for the St. Paul Pioneer Press for the past 17 years. Niskanen is an award-winning journalist, the author of a new book on state parks, and an advocate of social media who previously wrote a popular blog on the Pioneer Press website.

In Commissioner’s Office appointments, Bob Meier is named special assistant to the commissioner for legislative affairs. Bob Lessard, a 26-year veteran of the Capitol and a long-time champion of the outdoors, also will become a special assistant to the commissioner for community outreach. The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council takes part of its name from Lessard, who was among the first legislators to suggest using the state’s sales tax to fund to fish and wildlife conservation. He will work with conservation organizations and other groups around the state to ensure that the agency is listening and responding to their ideas and concerns.

Divisional leadership includes: Laurie Martinson, director of the new Division of Operations Services; Larry Kramka, director of the Division of Lands and Minerals; Ed Boggess, formerly acting director and now director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife. Courtland Nelson remains director of the Parks and Trails Division; Jim Konrad remains director of the Enforcement Division; Steve Hirsch remains director of the division of Ecological and Water Resources; and Dave Epperly continues as director of the Division of Forestry.

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