DNR shuffling Eco Services

By Joe Albert

Staff Writer

St. Paul – A plan to shuffle the Ecological Services Division at
the DNR and bring it more in line with other divisions could mean
changes for managers in St. Paul.

At least three Eco Services programs will be affected: the
Environmental Review Program, Natural Heritage Program, and Nongame
Wildlife Program.

Nongame Wildlife is one of Eco Service’s most visible programs.
Managed for nearly 30 years by its founder, Carrol Henderson, the
program focuses on 800 nongame wildlife species.

It’s unclear where the changes – the main one will be to hire
four Eco Services regional managers – will leave St. Paul-based
program managers, including Henderson.

Their responsibilities and skills will be evaluated beginning in
March, said Lee Pfannmuller, Eco Services director. While their
responsibilities are likely to change, nobody will lose their

‘The supervisor is going to go to the field, and how we arrange
the scope of responsibility in St. Paul is yet to be determined,’
Pfannmuller said.

The move to four regional managers is less a reorganization and
more the agency wanting to ‘have a lot of the directions and
functions handled at the regional level,’ said Brad Moore, DNR
assistant commissioner.

Instead of reporting to St. Paul-based managers, field employees
from Eco Services will report directly to one of the four regional
managers. Program coordination will be balanced between St. Paul
and the regional office, Pfannmuller said.

The setup will be in line with other divisions like Fish and

Eco Services has regional liaisons who serve part of a
managerial role, but, ‘the informal role isn’t working as well as
it could,’ Moore said.

About 20 Eco Services programs are operate in St. Paul. The
three programs that so far have been identified for change have
staff in most of the regional offices, so it’s more of a ‘logical
transition,’ Pfannmuller said.

In the early days of the Nongame Wildlife Program, Henderson was
the lone biologist. The program now has six biologists in the field
and a budget of about $1 million per year.

Henderson had been on a trip to Costa Rica for the past three
weeks and wasn’t aware of the particulars of the proposal or what
it would mean for his job.

Pfannmuller said the goal of having regional managers is
established, but the steps that will be taken to reshape the
division aren’t laid out yet. A planner will begin March 1 on the

‘It’s really meant to be pretty seamless, and if anything have a
positive impact in terms of more coordination of our programs,’ she

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