Ross Opsahl, conservation officer for Dakota County, was named 2000 Conservation Officer of the Year by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
A 17-year veteran of the DNR's Division of Enforcement, Opsahl received the award based on his outstanding contributions to natural resources law enforcement.
"Through his hard work, professionalism and dedication to maintaining the integrity of our state's natural resources, Conservation Officer Opsahl exemplifies the qualities that define all the division's law enforcement professionals," said Col. Bill Bernhjelm, DNR Enforcement Division chief.
During his career with the DNR, Opsahl has made more than 1,300 arrests, issued more than 500 written warnings, provided 300 assists and turned in more than 400 confiscated items. Opsahl has assisted numerous times with projects in his specialty area of firearms and equipment, such as an M-14 armorer, assisting regional training officers with firearms safety training, and serving on the 1837 treaty team, earning a Division Merit Award in 2000.
He also received an Appreciation Award for his assistance during the largest, multiple fatality boating accident in Minnesota history in 1999.
Opsahl's supervisor, Lt. Cathy Hamm, said, "Over the years Officer Opsahl has earned a reputation for cooperation and assistance with neighboring officers, and readily accepting any assignment where his talents were needed. And he's taken it a step farther, by sharing his expertise during each Conservation Officer Training Academy. We're proud of how he has represented the Department and Division and are pleased he has been selected Conservation Officer of the Year."
Opsahl is active in the safety training programs in his area, having more safety classes annually in his station than any other station in the state. He has instructed more than 400 firearm safety classes, 60 snowmobile safety classes, 30 adult hunter education classes, and numerous "Adopt a School" classes throughout Dakota County.
His annual safety instructors' banquet has won a division award and was nominated for a department award. He also assisted with statewide officer "Use of Force Training" at Camp Ripley, as well as firearms training of new recruits at the DNR Enforcement Training Academy where he developed lesson plans and course outlines for the M14 rifle classes he teaches.
Additionally, Opsahl has excellent working relations with other DNR divisions, especially Parks, Waters, Wildlife and Fisheries.
Bernhjelm said, "He works to acquire the latest skills, adapt them to real situations, and then passes those skills on to others, continually improving the caliber of law enforcement in Minnesota."
Opsahl lives in Eagan with his wife, Theresa, and their children, Claire and John.
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