Area outdoors enthusiasts probably won't notice any changes stemming from the DNR's recent move to streamline its operations, said Tim Goeman, regional fisheries manager with the Brainerd DNR.
DNR Commissioner Allen Garber announced Monday that the Division of Fish and Wildlife, the umbrella under which the fisheries, wildlife and environmental services sections operated, has been eliminated and that the three sections have been elevated to division status. Each will report directly to Garber. In the past the section chiefs reported to Roger Holmes, the former director of fish and wildlife who retired in January. His position has been eliminated.
Brainerd will get a new regional wildlife manager probably in August, Goeman said. The position has been vacant for almost two years. The selection process is under way but Goeman said he isn't sure if the new hire will come from within the department or from elsewhere.
Goeman said the DNR's realignment removes a layer of bureaucracy and should allow the division directors to be better connected to current issues.
"It's hard for any individual to stay apprised of what's happening with legislative and public issues," Goeman said. "Hardly a week goes by that some high-profile controversy doesn't come up."
Prior to a name change in 1971 the DNR was the Department of Conservation. At that time the department had just three divisions: fisheries, wildlife and enforcement. When the department changed its name and expanded its scope of operations fisheries and wildlife became sections and were grouped together under the Division of Game and Fish while enforcement became its own division. The present realignment returns the DNR to its roots, Goeman said.
"If you look at other divisions within the DNR or other state agencies this division status meshes up better," he said. "Nobody will argue the importance of fisheries and wildlife in Minnesota."
Goeman said Brainerd DNR employees learned of the restructuring through a conference call early Monday morning. "Beyond that I don't know how long the commissioner was working on it," he said. "But that would explain the lack of movement in replacing Holmes."
The restructuring takes effect July 1 and is expected to save the DNR about $86,000.
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