The commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has appointed 12 Minnesotans to three-year terms on citizen oversight committees that monitor the agency’s fish and wildlife spending.
The appointees are responsible for reviewing the DNR’s annual Game and Fish Fund report in detail and, following discussions with agency leaders and others, prepare reports on their findings.
Appointed to the Wildlife Oversight Committee are David Engels, Menahga; Burl Haar, Afton; Paul Hoppe, Ogilvie; Andrew Mauch, Wyoming; Bert Pexsa, Miltona; Mark Weber, Eden Prairie; and John Wells, St. Paul.
Appointed to the Fisheries Oversight Committee are James Arndt, Duluth; Kirk Duholm, Eagan; Charles Haslerud, Duluth; Becca Nash, Minneapolis; and Dave Thompson, Battle Lake. Also, the commissioner extended one-year appointments to Jeff Johnson of New London and Marj Hart of St. Michael so that they provide an additional year of their experience to this committee.
The new appointees join other members whose terms will expire in December 2017. The committees will resume work after the mid-December publication of the DNR’s Game and Fish Fund report for fiscal year 2016.
The fisheries and the wildlife oversight committees each continue a citizen oversight function first created in 1994. More than 35 people applied for oversight committee positions this time. Factors in choosing the new appointees included geographic distribution, demographic diversity and a mix of interests.
In the weeks ahead, committee chairs and four members will be selected by each committee to serve on an umbrella Budgetary Oversight Committee chaired by another appointee, John Lenczewski. This budgetary committee will develop an overall report on expenditures for game and fish activities. Those recommendations will be delivered to the DNR commissioner and legislative committees with jurisdiction over natural resources financing for further consideration.
According to the DNR, Minnesota’s Game and Fish Fund is the fiscal foundation for much of the state’s core natural resource management functions. About $110 million a year is deposited into this fund from hunting and fishing license sales, a sales tax on lottery tickets, and other sources of revenue, including a reimbursement based on a federal excise tax on certain hunting, fishing and boating equipment.
Past Game and Fish Fund reports and oversight reports are available at www.mndnr.gov/gamefishoversight.