Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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DNR may eliminate one assistant commissioner

Associate Editor

St. Paul Budget cuts will mean changes at DNR offices across the
state. That includes the agency headquarters in St. Paul.

Mark Holsten, DNR deputy commissioner, said it’s uncertain if
the position of assistant commissioner of administration will be
filled. Kim Bonde left that position last week.

“As an agency, we’re taking cuts across the board,” he said
early this week. “So is the commissioner’s office. We have to
re-evaluate if we have the money for another assistant
commissioner. We’re just in the infancy of dealing with this.”

New DNR Commissioner Gene Merriam took over at the agency on
Monday.

Holsten said the department’s budget would be its top concern,
as Gov. Tim Pawlenty must submit his budget in mid-February. The
budget will supercede other matters such as personnel decisions
regarding divisions heads and department reorganization, Holsten
said.

“We’ve dealt with virtually no personnel issue so far,” he said.
The only moves, he said, included the resignation of Bonde and the
appointment of Mark Johanson as acting director of the Enforcement
Division.

During his campaign, Pawlenty suggested reorganization of the
DNR, with the divisions of Fisheries, Wildlife and Enforcement
separating from the rest of the agency. Holsten said not to expect
changes soon.

However, he added, “There are significant changes coming, but
it’s going to take some time to totally restructure and reorganize
the agency. The immediate task is the budget.

” the outdoor community is excited about this, but right now
we’re trying to figure out a way to keep the state parks open and
how to deal with CWD (chronic wasting disease).”

Edgerton on MISA board

Wayne Edgerton, the DNR’s ag policy director, was named to the
Board of Directors for the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable
Agriculture, a group that’s part of the University of Minnesota and
dedicated to sustainable agriculture in the state.

Edgerton said it’s logical for the DNR to play a role in support
of sustainable agriculture, a practice that preaches crop rotation,
minimal use of fertilizer, and rotational grazing of farm
animals.

The MISA board serves as a link between the U of M and ag
producers. Information is dispersed to farmers via county contacts
and “field days,” Edgerton said.

Edgerton’s term with MISA runs for two years.

“This is a chance for the DNR to plug into a segment of rural
Minnesota. It’s an opportunity we haven’t had in the past,” he
said.

The board also includes a number of farmers from across the
state, faculty from the University of Minnesota, and other
community members.

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