Springfield — A Democratic lawmaker and staffers inside Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s new administration were indicating that state Rep. Wayne Rosenthal will be the next director of DNR.
Rauner had not yet made an official announcement as this issue of Illinois Outdoor News was going to press, but the governor did officially relieve DNR Director Marc Miller of his duties on Jan. 14. At the same time, Rauner staffers were reportedly preparing a statement concerning Rosenthal and the DNR position.
Rosenthal, a two-term Republican from Morrisonville, is retired from the Illinois National Guard. He is a farmer and avid outdoorsman who has been active in several key pieces of legislation involving the state’s outdoors.
Rosenthal nor his staff would comment on the pending appointment.
However, state Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, told the Belleville News-Democrat that he had met with Rauner and discussed the DNR director job. Costello told the newspaper that he was told Jan. 14 that afternoon that Rosenthal was getting the job.
“I look forward to working with him,” Costello said. “He is both knowledgeable and approachable.”
Miller, who was appointed by Quinn in early 2009, has been praised for his effort and his knowledge of sportsman’s issues in the state. However, his administration suffered from budget constraints and from a handful of missteps by members of his staff.
Miller had also been criticized by deer hunters who questioned deer management and deer hunting seasons and regulations.
Rosenthal is serving his second term as state representative for the 95th House District, which includes all of Montgomery County and portions of Christian, Macoupin and Madison counties.
He has operated his family’s grain farm – it includes acreage in Christian, Montgomery and Macoupin counties – for 20 years. He and his wife, Marcia, have been married for 42 years and have three sons.
According to his biography, Rosenthal retired from the Illinois Air National Guard in 2001 as a brigadier general after 30 years of commissioned service. He was a distinguished graduate from Undergraduate Navigator Training and recipient of the Husik Memorial Trophy awarded to the top aviation student in 1972.
The next 18 years were spent flying as a Weapons Systems Officer amassing over 3,000 flight hours in the F-4 Phantom. Rosenthal graduated from the United States Air Force Fighter Weapons Instructor Course in 1979 and served in leadership positions within the 170th Fighter Squadron including chief of Weapons & Tactics, operations officer and squadron commander. Rosenthal retired as the 183rd Logistics Group commander, which included 14 officers, 522 enlisted personnel and an annual budget of over $15 million and assets of over $500 million.
Rosenthal attended Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and following a two-year leave of absence for military training, he graduated from Sangamon State University (University of Illinois-Springfield) in 1974 with a B.A. in mathematics.
As for his personal conservation experience, he is actively involved in wildlife habitat restoration and is an avid hunter. In 2004, he established the Wild Rural Park Hunting and Fishing Preserve, west of Waggoner, to host youth hunts in cooperation with the Illinois Conservation Foundation, Taylorville Area Whitetails Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and the National Wild Turkey Federation.
Wild Rural Park offers year-round pheasant and quail hunting and hosts youth pheasant, deer and turkey hunts.
Rosenthal is also a member of the National Rifle Association and the Illinois State Rifle Association.
In Springfield, Rosenthal has served on several committees, including Agriculture and Conservation, Appropriations Elementary and Secondary Education, Energy, Financial Institutions, State Government Administration and Veterans’ Affairs.
He was the chief sponsor last year of House Bill 4226, a bill that would have allowed the hunting of bobcats. Costello was the chief co-sponsor of the bill.