State conservation leader passes away

By Joe Albert

Staff Writer

Frank Schneider Jr. was the Outdoor News 2001 Man of the

St. Paul — A conservation giant in Minnesota has died. Frank
Schneider Jr. passed away on Monday, Aug. 8 at 4:45 p.m. of a brain
tumor. He was 86, and diagnosed in late May with inoperable brain

“It’s a great loss for us today,” said Lance Ness, president of
the Fish and Wildlife Legislative Alliance.

Those who knew Schneider described him as “inspired,” “a
leader,” and “honest and up front.” He was involved heavily in
fisheries issues for more than 30 years, as well as hunting and
broader conservation topics. He helped organize groups like Muskies
Inc., FWLA, Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance, and served on a
number of oversight committees. And he spent countless hours
testifying in front of legislative committees on issues ranging
from public accesses to lake management.

Of any other citizen activist, “He was probably the one person
that seemed to be the most dedicated,” said Jack Skrypek, former
DNR Fisheries chief. “He’s probably one of the most inspired
anglers that I ever met.”

Schneider started out as an activist for fishing causes, but
also stood up for hunting, and later, broader conservation issues,
Skrypek said. “He got more attuned to trying to protect habitat,
trying to protect water quality,” he said. “It always seemed like
he was there.”

Muskie fishing perhaps is the one thing Schneider was best known
for. He was a leader in developing the state’s muskie program,
though since Ron Payer, current DNR Fisheries chief, began with the
agency in the late 1970s, “Frank was already involved and engaged
in literally every major fishing issue around the state.”

“We’ve got one of the best, if not the best, muskie fisheries in
the nation,” Payer said. “Frank was right there pitching in and
contributing his time and energy to make that work.”

Payer also remembers Schneider as the main lobbyist for
fisheries issues for many years. And he never was paid a dime for
his time at the Capitol.

“As a citizen, he constantly made the effort and didn’t ask for
anything in return,” Ness said. “Probably no one in the last 30 or
40 years has done as much for fishing as Frank Schneider.”

Though Schneider worked closely with the DNR, he didn’t always
agree with its decisions.

“He never had any hidden agendas,” Skrypek said. “You always
knew exactly where he stood.”

His main concern was the resource, and he made that known,
Skrypek said. Though the two would disagree on some things, “We
would work things out,” Skrypek said.

Like Skrypek, Roger Goeschel of the Minnesota Darkhouse
Association wasn’t always on the same page with Schneider. The two,
who knew each other for 25 years, sparred over darkhouse

“With Frank Schneider, even his would-be rivals were his
friends,” Goeschel said. “He was a friend of mine and I’m going to
miss him.”

Goeschel said the larger conservation picture often united the
two. “We didn’t always see eye to eye on darkhouse spearing,” he
said. “He thought he was right and I thought I was right. But we
were both looking for the same thing.”

Funeral planned

A wake for Schneider will be held Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at
the Adam Bradshaw Funeral Home in White Bear Lake; visitation is
set for Friday from 9 to 10 a.m. at Maternity of Mary Church in St.
Paul; funeral is at the same church following the visitation.

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