Commissioner's Advisory Committee on Natural Heritage (CAC)

Commissioner's Advisory Committee exploring Swedes Forest SNA

The Commissioner's Advisory Committee on Natural Heritage (CAC) advises Minnesota Department of Natural Resources programs on issues related to sustaining the state's natural heritage and biological diversity. Minnesota's natural heritage consists of its native prairies, forests, and wetlands and the native plants and animals that live here. The Committee is a citizen voice for protecting high quality natural resources and integrating conservation of these resources.

Recruiting New CAC Members!

The DNR is seeking applications from individuals interested in serving on the Commissioner’s Advisory Committee on Natural Heritage. Questions in the brief application reflect the DNR’s desire to have a well-rounded Committee. Applicants need to be Minnesota residents and willing to make up to a five-year commitment. Members are expected to participate in five meetings and one field trip each year. Meetings are typically held in St. Paul with options for remote participation, and travel mileage for meeting attendance can be reimbursed. If you are interested in becoming a member, start your application online now by clicking this link: START APPLICATION. It should take less than 20 minutes to complete. Advisory committee data are classified as private under Minnesota Statutes, section 13.601, subd.3, except for what is specifically listed in statute as public.

Thank you for considering this unique and important opportunity!

This appointed Committee makes recommendations to these Minnesota Department of Natural Resources programs:

The Committee provides recommendations concerning:

  • Biological diversity
  • Management of rare resources
  • Research opportunities
  • Communications and outreach

Commissioner's Advisory Committee on Natural Heritage Charter 

Commissioner's Advisory Committee on Natural Heritage members on a field trip


The Commissioner's Advisory Committee (CAC) was first established in 1966 by Commissioner of Conservation, Clarence Prout. The fifteen member committee first met on September 23, 1966. The Commissioner's Advisory Committee initially was charged with recommending:

  • policies and criteria for the selection and management of Scientific and Natural Areas,
  • a comprehensive long range plan for Natural Areas,
  • a research program pertaining to Natural Areas,
  • persons to serve on the Committee,
  • and to serve as a consulting board to the Commissioner on matters related to Natural Areas.

The Committee was the driving force behind legislation passed in 1969 for the establishment of state natural areas. The role of the Committee was expanded in February 1984 to include providing advice to the Natural Heritage and Nongame Wildlife programs. This recommendation came from the Committee and the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources.



Members of Committee must have expertise or interest in sustaining the natural heritage of Minnesota - its native prairies, forests, and wetlands and the native plants and animals that live here. Persons are sought who have knowledge, demonstrated dedication to and/or experience related to natural area systems, conservation biology, ecology, environmental education, natural resource management, or protection of Minnesota's rare species, natural communities, geology, and other components of natural diversity. Appointed members of Committee may not be current DNR employees.



The Committee has up to 15 appointed members with terms of up to five years. Committee members receive no compensation for their voluntary services except that they are eligible for reimbursement for travel.

Current committee membership:

  • Alyssa Alness, Jordan
  • Kristen Blann, Cushing
  • Nancy Braker, Northfield
  • Kevin Brennan, Fergus Falls
  • Tom Casey, Mound
  • Robyn Ceurvorst, Saint Peter
  • Peg Furshong, Sacred Heart
  • Kathryn Keller-Miller, Minneapolis
  • Linda Kingery, Crookston
  • Jaxson Lane, White Bear Lake
  • Sarah Malick-Wahls, Ely
  • John Pearson, Saint Paul
  • John Schladweiler, New Ulm
  • Angela Smith, Brooklyn Center
  • Christopher Smith, Lake Saint Croix Beach
  • Michael Spry, Nevis
  • Jeanette Eller Watland, Pierz

Meeting Schedule

Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of every other month. Most meetings are held at the DNR Central Office, 500 Lafayette Road in Saint Paul from 10:30 am to about 2:30-3:00 pm. One or more meetings a year may be a field review and could be scheduled at a different time.