The Department of Natural Resources today announced its second round of leadership appointments.
DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen announced the appointment of Shannon Lotthammer as assistant commissioner overseeing the divisions of Forestry, Parks and Trails and Operations Services. Lotthammer comes to the DNR from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, where she served as assistant commissioner for water policy and the agency’s agricultural and tribal liaison.
Strommen also announced that most of agency’s current regional and division leadership will remain, reflecting a strong team that has "a great deal of experience, a diversity of views, and a wide range of backgrounds."
The DNR’s four regional directors and five of the agency’s seven division directors will continue in their roles. The regional directors who have been reappointed are Rita Albrecht, northwest region (Bemidji); Patty Thielen, northeast region (Grand Rapids); Keith Parker, central region (St. Paul); and Scott Roemhildt, southern region (New Ulm).
Division directors who will stay in their current roles are Ecological and Water Resources Director Steve Colvin; Enforcement Director Rodmen Smith; Forestry Director Forrest Boe; Operations Services Director Laurie Martinson; and Parks and Trails Director Erika Rivers.
Fish and Wildlife Director Jim Leach, after a 37-year career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and nearly three years in his current role at the DNR, has decided to transition from the DNR into retirement.
"I want to thank Jim Leach for the strong experience he brought to the DNR from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," Strommen said, citing his leadership roles in developing critical plans for deer management, fisheries management at Lake Vermilion and Lake of the Woods, and chronic wasting disease.
"Jim is a true professional and I’m grateful for his natural resources contributions to DNR and the entire state over a long career in public service," Strommen said.
Lands and Minerals Director Jess Richards was recently named as an assistant commissioner, therefore the agency will be filling director positions in both the Fish and Wildlife and Lands and Minerals divisions.
Strommen said Grant Wilson will fill in as the interim director of the Fish and Wildlife Division when Jim Leach retires in mid-February. Wilson is currently the division’s policy and planning supervisor. Susan Damon will fill in as interim director of the Lands and Minerals Division; she is currently an assistant director of the division.
Strommen said Sherry Enzler, the agency’s current general counsel, and Chris Niskanen, the agency’s chief communications officer, will also remain with the agency in their current roles.
Strommen described the DNR’s leadership team as "well-rounded and deeply committed to DNR’s mission." She said the leadership team has "lots of experience in field operations, deep knowledge of regional and local issues, and many of them have lived in -- or currently live in – rural Minnesota."
With her leadership team largely in place, Commissioner Strommen said she was excited to begin tackling major issues at the DNR and fulfilling the agency’s part of Gov. Tim Walz’s One Minnesota Vision.
"Our mission to work with Minnesotans to conserve natural resources, provide outdoor recreation opportunities and contribute to the state’s natural resources economies has never been more important," she said. "I’m thrilled to be leading this experienced and talented team to fulfill that mission."
More about DNR Assistant Commissioner Shannon Lotthammer Lotthammer has worked as MPCA assistant commissioner for water policy since February 2018. Prior to that, she served as the director of MPCA’s Environmental Analysis and Outcomes Division since July 2012. Lotthammer has served in various positions at the MPCA since 1994, including water assessment and environmental information section manager, water monitoring section manager, and watershed project management.
She started her state career as an intern with the DNR’s fisheries section in 1993. Lotthammer has a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Minnesota–Duluth and a master’s of science degree in ecology from the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. Lotthammer is an avid upland bird hunter, pursuing grouse and pheasants with German shorthair pointers, and she enjoys camping, hiking, dog training, and running. Lotthammer begins her job at the DNR Feb. 25.