Friday, February 20, 2009

Division change means managing for cleaner water, land (February 20, 2009)

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced that it will align the responsibilities of two existing divisions into a new division focused on watershed management.

“This new division will approach conservation work differently,” said DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten. “Minnesotans value clean water and abundant habitat. We need to do all we can to manage our natural resources in the most comprehensive and efficient way.”

“In the end, it’s all about outcomes - including healthy, habitat-rich lands and fishable, swimable water for our children and grandchildren,” Holsten said.

Assistant Commissioner Larry Kramka will lead the effort to create the new division with staff from the existing divisions of Waters and Ecological Resources. Kramka will work closely with Division of Waters Director Kent Lokkesmoe and Division of Ecological Resources Director Steve Hirsch throughout the process.

“We’ll be doing much more than integrating two divisions,” Kramka said. “We’ll take a careful look at how we can further progress toward our conservation goals in the areas of clean water, productive lands and high-quality habitat.”

Among those goals will be building the agency’s working relationship with private landowners, communities, watershed organizations and others.

The new division eventually will incorporate Division of Waters responsibilities, such as public waters protection, water supply management, and water levels measurement, with the Division of Ecological Resources functions of protecting and restoring ecosystems and providing support for land use decisions.

Waters has a staff of about 145 and a 2008-2009 budget of approximately $30.9 million. Ecological Resources has about 166 staff and a budget of $50.7 million

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