COLUMBUS, Ohio — A top conservation adviser to Gov. John Kasich who resigned earlier this month also issued a letter criticizing the state’s DNR.
On June 16, a story on www.outdoornews.com reported the resignation of Mike Budzik, part-time policy liaison to the hunting and fishing community. A recent story by the Columbus Dispatch included excerpts of the resignation letter; a full story will appear in the July 7 issue of Ohio Outdoor News.
“The truth is that the leadership of ODNR has no regard for the sportsmen and women of Ohio,” Budzik wrote in a resignation letter.
Hunting licenses go unchecked and hunting-safety courses are neglected because of a lack of funding, the former adviser said in the Dispatch story.
Budzik also took issue with the state’s inaction with a potential AEP land deal. Negotiations to buy reclaimed strip mines from AEP slowed earlier this year. Public hunting and fishing on the land could be prohibited if the utility company sells it to private investors instead of the state.
“The loss of access to these lands would be a terrible blow to outdoor recreation in Ohio. This issue requires your leadership,” Budzik wrote.
Budzik also highlighted understaffing in the department.
“Five counties are vacant, having no wildlife officer at all. Issues like this are what has convinced many sportsmen that the administration is trying to financially starve the Wildlife Division to force consolidation of law enforcement,” Budzik wrote.
Natural Resources spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle says the cuts in staffing are because of targeted funding. McCorkle also denied rumors the Wildlife Division will be eliminated.
“The governor appreciates his service and wishes him well,” said Kasich spokeswoman Emmalee Kalmbach.
President and CEO of Sportsmen’s Alliance Evan Heusinkveld affirmed the organization’s support of Budzik.
“Mike Budzik has dedicated his entire life to improving and advancing wildlife-conservation efforts in Ohio,” Heusinkveld said in a statement. “We share Mike’s deep concern about the funding crisis of the Division of Wildlife.”