The Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council: Meet the members

St. Paul – The 12 members of the Lessard Outdoor Heritage
Council have been named and met for the first time earlier this
week.

Following are brief biographies of each member, as well as short
questions and answers, which are edited for length.

House appointments

DAVID HARTWELL

Hartwell, of Minneapolis, is founder and president of Bellcomb
Technologies. He’s on the boards of the National Audubon Society,
the Land Trust Alliance, the Land Trust Accreditation Commission,
Mississippi River Fund, and the Minnesota League of Conservation
Voters. Hartwell has been active in the Delta Waterfowl Foundation,
and enjoys the outdoors.

Why did you want to be on the council? This is a huge, huge
opportunity to truly create a legacy for future generations in
terms of habitat in the state. I’ve done this kind of work for 25
years and believe passionately in restoration and preservation.

What’s the council’s role, in your mind? The council’s role is
to be wise stewards, and still be entrepreneurial and visionary in
approach.

How should this money be spent – purchasing land, easements,
etc.? There is an absolute role for restoration, and funding for
acquisition – fee or easements. We have to figure out how to
support the infrastructure to get that done. Talk to the DNR or
Ducks Unlimited and ask them if they can put this money to work.
The answer is that today, they don’t have the resources to do all
this work. One of the challenges for the council is how to build
the capacity without building duplication.

How should this council interface with the public? By working
with the groups that are going to be doing the implementing, there
is a pretty broad public involved in those groups. I think the
question is more how does the council listen and understand the
needs from the field.

DARBY NELSON

Nelson, of Champlin, is a freelance writer, environmental
speaker, and former college biology instructor. He served in the
Minnesota House of Representatives from 1983 to 1988. Nelson is the
co-chair of the Conservation Minnesota Voter Center and a past
board member of the Minnesota Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area. He enjoys the
outdoors, including fishing and moose and deer hunting.

Why did you want to be on the council? I really wanted to be on
it so that what is done is absolutely transparent to the public. We
have to keep the faith of the voter and get the most bang for the
buck we possibly can. I felt strongly enough about that to put in
an application.

What’s the council’s role, in your mind? Ultimately to recommend
how the money is spent. I see us as being an important means by
which the general public gets represented in these decisions. The
legislators ultimately decide where to spend it, but it’s just a
way to get the general public involved.

How should this money be spent – purchasing land, easements,
etc.? The constitutional amendment language is helpful in that
regard, but it’s too early to really say how this is going to work.
We’ve got a lot of work to do in determining methodology and
structure and so forth. I think we’ll be in good shape to provide
the kind of input legislators are going to need.

How should this council interface with the public? We’re going
to have to figure out ways of letting the public know what we’re
doing. The public needs to know what we’re doing and why – the
justification, the reasoning behind it. Exactly how to accomplish
that is what we will work on very early.

REP. RICK HANSEN

Hansen, DFL-So. St._Paul, chairs the Legislative Audit
Commission and is vice chair of the Environment and Natural
Resources Committee. He was first elected in 2004 and is an active
hunter and fisherman.

Why did you want to be on the council? It’s an opportunity to
invest in the outdoors for future generations. The voters sent a
strong signal by approving the amendment and now we have the
responsibility to implement their wishes.

What’s the council’s role, in your mind? To get the best
projects to recommend to the Legislature for approval. Part of my
responsibility is to bring these recommendations to our peers and
make sure we have good recommendations to bring them. It’s our
responsibility, too, to make sure this is implemented well. We want
to do it right at the beginning to make sure we set it up well for
those who follow us in the future.

How should this money be spent – purchasing land, easements,
etc.? We need to have things that people can see and people can
use, that the public can go to. Something real, rather than another
study or plan. In this economy, we need to invest these resources
wisely to get the best bang for our buck and also look at
leveraging additional resources to provide even more outdoor
protection.

How should this council interface with the public? We need to be
very transparent. There needs to be openness in meetings. We have
an opportunity here to demonstrate how we can do things well. So
having a request for proposals process and a web page and getting
input and showing when we do recommend proposals and the
Legislature does make decisions that there is follow up, too.

REP. BOB GUNTHER

Gunther, R-Fairmont, is a business owner and serves on the
Environment and Natural Resources Committee. He was first elected
in 1995 and enjoys fishing.

Why did you want to be on the council? Number one, to have
someone from southern Minnesota represented. The outdoors is worth
protecting and we need to make sure new generations of fishermen
and sportsmen, that we have something for them to use for habitat,
and that we keep our waters clean.

What’s the council’s role, in your mind? The council’s role is
probably going to be to set up criteria from which we judge all
requests for funding. Then to pick those most worthy. In total, we
have a chance to make the quality of life and the outdoors much
better.

How should this money be spent – purchasing land, easements,
etc.? Minnesota is the sixth-largest landowner in the nation. I
think we have enough land. We need to make sure the land we own is
acceptable and productive.

How should this council interface with the public? As a
politician and former grocer, that’s been my goal all the time is
to make sure people get the things they want. I’m not saying we can
do what everyone wants us to do, but we have to let people know
what we are looking for.

Governor appointments

JIM COX

Cox, of Cologne, owns Midwest Thermo Equipment Inc. He’s a
lifetime member of several outdoors, habitat, and conservation
organizations, and from 2003 to 2006 was president of the Minnesota
Waterfowl Association. Cox is an active member of Pheasants
Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, and serves on the board
of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust.

Why did you want to be on the council? I just wanted to make
sure this amendment is as successful as everyone hoped it would be.
I want to make sure that happens.

What’s the council’s role, in your mind? The council’s role is
to make sure the money is used for the purposes it was intended.
It’s to make sure the money is spent wisely and it’s to make sure
the money is spent on good habitat.

How should this money be spent – purchasing land, easements,
etc.? There’s a number of things I would like to see: land
acquisition, restoration, incentives for conservation – all those
things.

How should this council interface with the public? It’s
important that we are as transparent as we can possibly be and that
the sportsmen of the state understand what we are doing and why we
are doing it and are aware of exactly how this money is spent.

WAYNE ENGER

Enger, of Perham, is the Otter Tail County director of the Farm
Service Agency. He’s a recent past president of the Minnesota Deer
Hunters Association and former member of Minnesota Bowhunters Inc.,
Ducks Unlimited, and Future Farmers of America. He served on the
Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund Advisory Task Force
and has a number of years of experience as an advanced hunter
education instructor.

Why did you want to be on the council? Through the years, there
has been an awful lot of good, hard working people working on
Minnesota environmental issues. I thought I would throw my name in
the hat. I wanted to represent this group and everyone who decided
to vote for it.

What’s the council’s role, in your mind? To advise the
Legislature about proper spending of the money and make sure it’s
spent the proper way. That’s what the taxpayers are looking
for.

How should this money be spent – purchasing land, easements,
etc.? There are so many needs. We have water quality issues, we
have land access issues, we have an abundance of deer in some parts
of the state and a shortage in others. We need more recreational
opportunities, more educational programs. It will be very important
to sit back and see what comes in and make good, informed
decisions.

How should this council interface with the public? It’s going to
be important for the council to have direct affiliation with the
public and for all members to take a look at applications
personally. We shouldn’t be relying on people to tell us what we
want. It’s going to be the role of each person on the council to
take an active role in understanding what the public wants and make
the best choices.

SCOTT RALL

Rall, of Worthington, is a lifetime member of Pheasants Forever
and currently is the president of the Nobles County PF chapter.
He’s also a member of Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey
Federation, and has served as president of the Southwest Minnesota
Fishing Club. Rall also writes a weekly outdoors column in the
Worthington Daily Globe.

Why did you want to be on the council? I wanted down-to-earth
representation for southwest Minnesota by someone who’s been out
doing this kind of work. We’ve been doing the work, so I wanted
this council to have someone who’s actually sat on a tree planter,
who’s actually planted native grasses.

What’s the council’s role, in your mind? The first function, in
my mind, is building the foundation of how the funds are going to
be directed. Obviously, there is going to be a lot of money around,
but there is no prescribed protocol for how these funds will be
distributed. To me, that’s our primary responsibility, then
developing priorities as to where the funds will be spent.

How should this money be spent – purchasing land, easements,
etc.? It needs a big picture approach. There is a duck plan in
Minnesota, a pheasant plan. The research has been done on those.
Looking into what it takes to implement those will probably be on
the table. Shallow lakes are important to me, Land acquisition in
southwest Minnesota is important to me.

How should this council interface with the public? With complete
transparency and with some pre-determined methods of communication.
I’m sure the council will come up with some way of disseminating
the information as it’s procured.

BOB SCHROEDER

Schroeder, of Minneapolis, was deputy chief of staff for Gov.
Tim Pawlenty from 2003 to 2008. He previously was deputy Secretary
of State and assistant commissioner at the Department of
Administration. He has a bachelor of arts degree in botany from
Drew University in New Jersey, and a master of science degree in
forestry from Duke University. He practiced forestry for more than
10 years and is former chair of the Minnesota Chapter of The Nature
Conservancy and the Environmental Quality Board.

Why did you want to be on the council? Minnesota is blessed with
magnificent natural resources and a public that has taken the
extraordinary step to constitutionally protect those resources and
habitat. I’d like to help be contributing my time, energy, and
experience in public policy and natural resources to this
groundbreaking effort.

What’s the council’s role, in your mind? The council’s role, as
defined in state statute, is for habitat protection and improvement
for hunting and fishing and other resources. We need to establish a
statewide strategic plan for habitat protection, improvement, and,
in some cases, restoration.

How should this money be spent – purchasing land, easements,
etc.? First of all, it should be done strategically and with a lot
of help and input from organizations across the state. Minnesota is
blessed with a network of conservation related organizations that
have been incredibly effective in their particular areas and they
all have great ideas and great people. Part of what we can do is
bring together all those ideas and interests in a strategic,
long-term way.

How should this council interface with the public? Each of the
council members has a role as a spokesman for the council. Each of
the council members will have a role in listening to the public’s
interests in developing what that strategic plan should be and then
how it should be implemented.

Senate appointments

LESTER BENSCH

Bensch, of Ashby, spent 25 years in the computer industry in the
metro before moving to Ashby, where he owns and operates the Viking
Valley Hunt Club. He’s active in conservation and preservation in
his own business, as well as through his involvement in groups like
Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and the Minnesota Deer Hunters
Association.

Why did you want to be on the council? I have been working on
dedicated funding for six or seven years now. I’m a believer that
during the legislative process we get shortchanged in funding for
the environment.

What’s the council’s role, in your mind? I would like to see the
council split the state into five geographic or geologic regions
and put together a group in each region. We cannot spread ourselves
across the whole state. We need to bring in the major players and
sportsmen’s clubs and get their input, let them do some filtering
of projects.

How should this money be spent – purchasing land, easements,
etc.? I would like to see a good portion of the money spent on
permanent easements with a walk-in access program associated with
it. You basically leave the land in private enterprise and still
let the public have access.

How should this council interface with the public? It’s
important to create these groups in different regions and maintain
close communication with these groups. We have a lot of experts out
there. We need to get individuals or groups that are dedicated to
preservation and conservation, then identify and prioritize
projects.

MIKE KILGORE

Kilgore, of Lino Lakes, is an associate professor of natural
resource economics and policy at the University of Minnesota’s
Department of Forest Resources, and also serves as the director of
the University’s Center for Environment and Natural Resource
Policy. He chairs the Minnesota Master Logger Certification Program
and in 2006 was appointed by Gov. Pawlenty to chair the
Conservation Legacy Council.

Why did you want to be on the council? It’s a great opportunity
to make a difference and really focus on projects that are going to
put habitat in Minnesota. I have a passion and interest in the
outdoors and making sure our outdoor heritage and habitat will be
sustained, and even better.

What’s the council’s role, in your mind? To make recommendations
to the Legislature on how to allocate that portion of the sales tax
that’s focused on habitat and conservation. We need to figure out
our plan of attack and what our priorities will be.

How should this money be spent – purchasing land, easements,
etc.? It’s too early to tell. The key is that it’s got to be on
habitat. It’s got to be on activities that improve habitat and
conservation in the state.

How should this council interface with the public? There needs
to be a strong interface. We cannot be doing this in isolation of
what the public’s interests and priorities are. We need to actively
seek them out and understand where they see the priorities for
habitat and conservation.

SEN. BILL INGEBRIGTSEN

Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, was elected in 2006 and served as
Douglas County Sheriff prior to his election. He serves on the
Environment and Natural Resources Committee, and his special
legislative interests include the environment and natural
resources, as well as agriculture.

Why did you want to be on the council? I worked with sportsmen
to set up the council and I come from an area where there are a lot
of sportsmen. Rural representation is also very important.

What’s the council’s role, in your mind? Looking at the
different programs and different applicants that apply for dollars,
even matching dollars where groups ask for matching grants for
wetlands projects, possibly stocking programs.

How should this money be spent – purchasing land, easements,
etc.? I’m not really in favor of land purchases. I stand pretty
strongly on the idea of selling the same amount of property
somewhere else. We need to do a little better job of managing the
properties we have. Landowners and farmers with good properties
that can be hunted by allowing the public on them, those are the
kind of programs I am looking for.

How should this council interface with the public? As
transparent as possible. It’s their money. I take it very seriously
being a steward of the public dollar. We’ll be very open with the
public and ask for their input into how the money is spent.

SEN. ELLEN ANDERSON

Anderson, DFL-St. Paul, was first elected in 1994. She’s an
advocate for renewable energy and conservation, and is chair of the
Senate Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Budget Division.
Anderson also serves on the Environment and Natural Resources
Committee.

Why did you want to be on the council? I’ve been very interested
for many years in making sure we do right by Minnesota and
Minnesota’s natural resources. As chair of the Finance Division, I
have a special responsibility to make sure the work done by this
council has a statewide, geographic balance and that it’s focused
on achieving really good outcomes instead of just doling out money
to different groups.

What’s the council’s role, in your mind? To put a long-term plan
into place and put the steps in place to get there so the public
can see where the money is going.

How should this money be spent – purchasing land, easements,
etc.? We have a pretty clear statement in the constitution of what
needs to be protected – fish and game species, but also wildlife in
general. Wetlands, prairies, forests – all the different parts of
the state. I would like to see us set up some goals of how many
acres of prairie we need to have protected over the next 20 years,
and do the same with each of the areas.

How should this council interface with the public? We need to be
really focused on a public face. We should have an active web site
that members of the public can go to and see what the specific
goals are and measure our progress in getting there. The other
piece is to be out and about. We need to go around the state and
meet with people and be accessible.

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