The obvious game of musical chairs — played to the tune of let’s prevent mining and jobs for the Iron Range — by former DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr (appointed by former Gov. Dayton) and new DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen (appointed by Gov. Walz) needs a simple bipartisan, legislative fix.
While a student at the University of Minnesota, my assignment for my Fish and Wildlife Administration class was to compare the costs to benefits of the five-member DNR Commission of the states of Tennessee and Michigan, compared to our then, Minnesota Department of Conservation, with its one-only commissioner. Unlike our current DNR structure, I learned that a DNR Commission, although seemingly more bureaucratic and slow-to-act, can be more purposeful and deliberate in its actions, more balanced in its politics, and less partisan in its approach to controversial topics like mining.
The five-member DNR Commission would consist of two minority-party members and three majority-party members. For example, if instituted today, it would be made up of two Republican-appointed members and three DFL-appointed members. Clearly, it would not be like the anti-mining DNR Commissioner who we’ve had for the last eight years, under Dayton, and the anti-mining DNR Commissioner who seemingly we will have for at least the next four years, under Walz.
David G. Holmbeck
DNR retired 2008