Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources this week released the names of the two firms that the agency intends to pay to help advise it when it comes to making decisions about its own future.
Minnesota DNR shares names of ‘advisors’ on agency renivestment plan
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is responsible for a number of programs, including fisheries and hunting, that get little public attention, but are vitally important to the people who use them. Somehow, officials at the agency have not been able to sell those programs to the public, and as a result, they have been working on a taxpayer-funded plan to try to drum up private investment.
Minnesota, like much of the country, is facing increasing pressure on natural resources from the growth of outdoor recreation – including places like the legendary Itasca State Park – so the reinvestment plan will examine both future spending priorities and funding sources. (Photo: Brian Peterson)
At MNR’s January virtual roundtable, Commissioner Sarah Strommen surprised attendees by announcing her plans for the agency’s new reinvestment plan.
The initiative, she told Outdoor News next week, would address the long-discussed problem that current models of natural resource financing may not be sustainable in the long run. Although hunting and fishing license sales rose sharply in 2023, there has been a slow and steady downward trend for decades.
At the same time, Minnesota, like much of the country, is experiencing increasing pressure on natural resources due to the growth of outdoor recreation. The reinvestment plan will therefore take into account both future spending priorities and sources of finance.
It’s time to not just talk about how we’re going to make that future investment, but to come up with a concrete plan and some recommendations on how Minnesota can invest in (nature) for future generations, she told Outdoor News editor Tim Spielman in the newspaper’s 29th print edition. January.
As part of that process, Strommen said, DNR officials will study funding models in other states to see if they can be successful here. At the time, she said the MNR was putting together a team to develop a framework for the reinvestment project.
Outdoor News and most of its statewide conservation sources had no news of the effort until the publication of an article by Dennis Anderson of the Star Tribune on Saturday, June 12, reporting that Strommen’s DNR had contacted a group of people outside the DNR for ideas for funding.
This work will be presented at 29. In June, a small group of staff from outside the Department of Natural Resources, with knowledge of fundraising, resource management and public policy, will meet to discuss the funding issues facing aid agencies across the country, Anderson wrote.
Dave Zentner of Duluth, longtime volunteer and conservation leader in the state (and the 2013 Outdoor News Man of the Year), will be on the committee, Anderson said.
Spielman spoke with Strommen on Monday, and she emphasized that this is not a formal committee, but rather consultants with various specialties to help DNR officials think about the future of the state’s conservation efforts and how future needs can be funded outside of the current funding model.
In an email Wednesday, Outdoor News asked DNR communications director Gail Nosek if part of the consultants’ job would be to look at funding models in other states to see if they could succeed here. She replied: With respect to funding models in other states, the research will consist of a combination of the advice of our consultants, the existing experience and knowledge of our MNR staff, and additional research by MNR staff. We will also likely turn to DNR experts and partners who have experience with funding models in other states.
List of advisors
Late Tuesday night, after this week’s print edition of Outdoor News went to press, the DNR made available a list of the initial advisors for the position. Ms. Nosek said the agency had not yet asked for bios, but she gave brief details about their relationship. Outdoor News has created the following descriptions using LinkedIn and other information available online. In addition to Zentner, the list includes:
- Nikki Bentley, Chair of the DNR Budget Oversight Committee and Senior Legal Solutions Specialist at Thomson Reuters in Eagan.
- Linnea Atlas-Ingebretson, who according to her LinkedIn profile is chief of staff at World Savvy, an education management company, and a consultant for the Twin Cities Parks and Open Spaces Commission.
- Don Ness, mayor of Duluth from 2008 to 2016 and current executive director of the Ordean Foundation.
- Bret Weiss, president and CEO of WSB & Associates, a Minneapolis-based consulting firm specializing in engineering, municipal, environmental and construction services.
- Michel Beeman, retired deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
- Dorothy Anderson, retired professor of natural resources at the University of Minnesota
- Joe Hoppe, a former Republican member of the Minnesota House of Representatives who represented Chaska from 2003 to 2019.
- Katie Frizz, Winnebago Industries. Her LinkedIn profile lists her as executive director of the Winnebago Foundation and Corporate Responsibility in Minneapolis.
- Tom Neustrom, Grand Rapids fishing guide, regular participant and author of the annual DNR roundtable discussions.
As part of the Minnesota DNR’s plan to end its operating deficit, the agency plans to sell the Zoo and the Carver DNR parks to private companies. The entities to be sold include the Zoo, and the Carver and Mississippi DNR parks – the state’s two largest. The state pays the agencies’ operating costs. Because the DNR’s financial plans require selling assets to pay off debt, and DNR officials say the state can’t afford to operate the service in its current form, the agency is looking for outside buyers for the parks.. Read more about tree planting programs near me and let us know what you think.
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