Keith Creagh tapped to head Michigan DNR
Lansing — In one of the quickest turnarounds in recent history, Rodney Stokes is out as DNR director and Keith Creagh, former director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is in, effective July 8. Stokes has been reappointed to a new position heading up Gov. Rick Snyder’s urban parks initiatives.
Jamie Clover Adams, Department of Environmental Quality policy and legislative affairs director, has been tapped to head the MDARD. The governor announced the changes last week.
“Keith is a natural choice to become our next DNR director,” Snyder said in a release. “He has a strong understanding of Michigan’s conservation, economic, and environmental needs, vast experience, the ability to bring people together, and a love of our state’s great outdoors that will make for a seamless transition.”
Creagh has been the MDARD director since January 2011, and has worked within the state department of agriculture for 30 years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in forestry from Michigan Technological University and said he’s an avid outdoorsman.
“I’m a southeast Michigan kid and was an Eagle Scout by the age of 13. I did a lot of fishing and camping when I was a scout,” Creagh said in a conference call. “I started small-game hunting and bowhunting with my dad. I went to Michigan Tech, partly because I could hunt, fish, and trap.
“I’ve bought hunting and fishing licenses for as long as I can remember. I think I have purchased a license every year since I was 16. I even trapped muskrats one year while I was in college to pay for a mule deer hunt out West.”
Creagh said he has four priorities he’d like to address first when he takes over at the DNR.
The department is in the middle of developing a strategic plan to help move it forward into the 21st century. Creagh said his first goal is to complete that plan.
“The administration is very interested in completing a strategic plan, and the first thing I want to do is to complete that plan,” he said.
With the lion’s share of DNR funding coming from a stagnant base of user fees and federal excise taxes on sporting goods, developing long-term funding is a major issue that has eluded the past few directors.
Once the strategic plan is formalized, Creagh said he wants to, “look at funding streams (for the DNR) and identify what long-term funding may be available.”
In the meantime, he wants to “continue to provide quality customer service” and to get out of Lansing and get in touch with the staff.
“I recognize the expertise at the DNR and would like to empower these people to make decisions,” Creagh said.
MUCC Executive Director Erin McDonough hopes Creagh works toward maintaining a department that gets things done on the ground.
“We want to see efforts focused in the field, not in Lansing. That’s what our members are most interested in seeing,” McDonough said in a release. “It’s not about having a bigger DNR; it’s about having a department that is effective in the areas that matter most.”
McDonough said her group enjoyed working with Stokes.
“He made progress in moving the DNR to address the priorities of the conservation community and we want to wish him well in his new position. At the same time, we must ensure that momentum is not lost and the commitment to change that we received from the department is honored,” McDonough said. “It’s not about simply plugging in another person. The DNR has struggled to move its operations to reflect the changes needed to bring the DNR into a 21st century conservation model, and the conservation community has been steadfast in its requests for those changes.”
Stokes will be the governor’s special adviser for city placemaking and will work with cities on projects such as ensuring the availability of quality green space and enhancing recreational opportunities.
“I am excited to take a lead role in fostering more vibrant urban communities,” Stokes said. “I firmly believe that great states have great cities, just as great states nurture and protect their natural resources. This appointment affords me one more opportunity to make Michigan a more dynamic, inviting place to be.”