Two citizen committees conduct annual budgetary oversight of Minnesota's Game and Fish Fund, the DNR's most important fund for delivering fisheries and wildlife management as well as natural resource law enforcement.
Nearly $100 million flows in and out of this fund each year. The revenue is primarily the product of hunting and fishing license sales, federal reimbursements and a sales tax on state lottery tickets. The Legislature must approve all Game and Fish Fund allocations, which fund DNR budget requests.
The Fisheries Oversight Committee and the Wildlife Oversight Committee review how the DNR spent funds from the Game and Fish Fund during the previous fiscal year. The Budgetary Oversight Committee, an umbrella committee composed of select members from the FOC and WOC, combines those reviews to produce an annual report and spending recommendations.
As prescribed by Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.055, subd. 4b, the DNR commissioner appoints 10 members to each citizen oversight committee. Those committees meet with DNR fisheries and wildlife managers and staff during the year to discuss expenditures, budgets, spending plans and other information related to the Game and Fish Fund. Those meetings culminate in a review of the committees' annual Game and Fish Fund Report.
- Appointments & eligibility
- The commissioner appoints the committee members and the BOC Chair and sets the terms and conditions of appointment.
- The DNR is committed to appointing a diverse mix of Minnesotans who bring a variety of knowledge and interests about hunting, fishing, and trapping. Applicants must have a strong interest in monitoring the proper expenditure of funds received from licenses, permits, stamps, and related revenue sources.
- To be eligible for appointment to a 2022-23 term, an applicant must meet both of these requirements:
- Be a Minnesota resident; and
- Purchased a personal or commercial Minnesota hunting, fishing or trapping license since Jan. 1, 2021, or licensed their vehicle with an active critical habitat license plate.
- Appointed members may serve up to six consecutive years. Current members interested in another term must apply again and are not guaranteed appointment to another term.
- Seasonal and temporary employees of the Minnesota DNR Fish and Wildlife Division become eligible for appointment one year after the end of their last employment with the DNR.
- Retired and former full-time employees of the Minnesota DNR Fish and Wildlife Division are not eligible for appointment.
- Persons whose employment may involve administration of activities funded by the Game and Fish Fund are not eligible for appointment. Examples of such activities are land acquisition; land and water management; fisheries and wildlife management; pass-through funding for such activities; state lottery; and similar activities related to management of fish, wildlife and habitat.
- An application process for open seats is conducted every year in the fall. The open application process is a self-nomination process.
- The commissioner appoints committee members for terms of up to two years through an open application process.
- Members appointed under an open application process are eligible to serve up to six consecutive years. A member with maximum consecutive service becomes eligible to apply again for appointment after a two-year break. Current members interested in another term must apply again and members are not guaranteed another consecutive term.
- The BOC Chair appointment is reviewed every year and is renewable by mutual agreement of the BOC Chair and the DNR Commissioner.
- A member may voluntarily withdraw from their term of appointment by notifying their DNR manager liaison or the DNR commissioner by email or letter. The commissioner may terminate an appointment if the member does not meet the expectations for a member in good standing, and will communicate a termination of appointment to the member by email or letter.
- A member’s appointment is subject to review by the commissioner, notwithstanding their initial term of appointment. An oversight committee may ask the commissioner to review a member’s appointment by a vote of that committee.
- The FOC and WOC choose their own chairs and members to serve on an umbrella Budgetary Oversight Committee (BOC).
- Oversight members are entitled to mileage reimbursement by request, but not a per diem.
- Requirements for appointees
- Time commitment: Members of the FOC and WOC meet twice a month in the evening. Participating in the BOC adds another meeting every month. You will need to be available for those meetings and to work on assignments between meetings in order to help the group produce results. (See the 2023 meeting schedule for more details.)
- Email address: This group relies on email for communication and some file-sharing. You will need an email address and you must check it on a daily basis when the group is active. A backup phone number will help the group chair and DNR manager liaison stay in touch.
- Access to a computer: Members works together to draft a report. You will need regular access to a computer so you can contribute to the drafting.
- Expenses: Members of this committee can request reimbursement of mileage costs for attending meetings in person. The DNR cannot offer compensation or reimbursement of other expenses.
Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.055, subd. 4b, assigned responsibilities to the three committees.
The Fisheries Oversight Committee (FOC) reviews fisheries funding and expenditures, including activities related to trout and salmon stamps and walleye stamps.
The Wildlife Oversight Committee (WOC) reviews wildlife funding and expenditures, including activities related to migratory waterfowl, pheasant, and wild turkey management and deer and big game management.
Tasks for these two committees are:
- Review annual reports of revenue and expenditures, and make recommendations to the legislature and the commissioner for improvements in the management and use of money in the game and fish fund.
- Make recommendations to the commissioner for outcome goals from expenditures.
- Make biennial budget plan recommendations to the commissioner by August 15 of each even-numbered year (added in 2001). At a minimum, this is accomplished by including general budget recommendations in the annual oversight report.
The Budgetary Oversight Committee (BOC) consists of the chairs of the Fisheries Oversight Committee and the Wildlife Oversight Committee and four additional members from each committee. Tasks for this umbrella committee are:
- Integrate the fisheries and wildlife committees’ reports into an annual report to the legislature;
- Recommend changes on a broad level in policies, activities, and revenue enhancements or reductions;
- Provide a forum to address issues that transcend the fisheries and wildlife committees; and
- Develop recommendations for a biennial budget plan and report for expenditures on game and fish activities and, by August 15 of each even-numbered year, submit the budget plan recommendations to the commissioner and to the senate and house committees with jurisdiction over natural resources.
- May also make recommendations to the commissioner and to the senate and house committees with jurisdiction over natural resources for outcome goals from expenditures.
The BOC develops a joint annual report with recommendations for improvement and other observations. The report is delivered to the DNR commissioner and legislative committees with jurisdiction over natural resources financing and policy.
- Schedule and accommodations
The DNR hosts regularly scheduled oversight committee meetings. Meetings will be conducted via DNR-hosted computer conferencing until further notice. When possible, the DNR hosts in-person committee meetings at the DNR Central Office in Saint Paul with remote conferencing options.
The DNR provides manager liaisons, online and in-person meeting spaces and other support for meeting planning, logistics and communications. A DNR facilitator assists the BOC with work planning, effective meetings and group decision-making, and production of reports and other communications. DNR leaders are available for BOC meetings.
Schedule for 2022 oversight committee meetings
The DNR hosts an annual kickoff meeting in early January for an overview of the DNR’s annual Game and Fish Fund Report and work planning by the FOC and WOC.
Fisheries and Wildlife Oversight committees (FOC and WOC) meet on the first and third Thursdays of the month from January to May. The meetings start at 6 p.m. and end by 8:30 or 9:00 p.m.
Budgetary Oversight Committee (BOC) meets the fourth Thursday of the month from January to May. BOC meetings start at 6 p.m. and end by 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. Wrap-up work on the BOC report sometimes continues into June, usually by email but with the option of holding a June meeting.
A committee may adjust this schedule after the committee assembles each year and with the agreement of Budgetary Oversight Committee. Ideally, meeting schedules are made by February so that members have certainty for their own calendars.
Individuals with a disability who need a reasonable accommodation to participate in oversight committees: Please contact the DNR liaison for the committee at least two weeks before the meeting, if possible.
For WOC meetings, contact Kelly Straka, Wildlife Section Manager at [email protected] or 651-259-5237.
For BOC meetings, contact Beth Carlson by email or call 651-219-1591
- 2023 meetings
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- For more information
If you have a question or comment about the oversight committees, please send an email to [email protected]. Your comment or question will be sent directly to the BOC chair.
Beth Carlson, DNR liaison to GFF oversight, DNR Operations Services Division, [email protected]
Kelly Straka, wildlife section manager at [email protected] or 651-259-5237
Brad Parsons, fisheries section manager at [email protected] or 651-357-4603