Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Sarah Strommen has appointed 18 Minnesotans to two-year terms on citizen oversight committees that monitor the agency’s fish and wildlife spending. The new appointees join other members with continuing terms.
The appointees are responsible for reviewing the DNR’s annual Game and Fish Fund report in detail and, following discussions with agency leaders and others, prepare reports on their findings.
Appointed to the Wildlife Oversight Committee are: Karli Cich (White Bear Lake), Phoebe Cole (Warroad), Burl Haar (Afton), Peter Hunt (Excelsior), Naomi Walker (Saint Louis Park), Brent Walz (Rochester), Matt Weegman (Houston), R John Wells (Saint Paul), Karen Wortman (Bigfork) and Andre Xiong (Oak Grove).
Appointed to the Fisheries Oversight Committee are: Faith Connors (Princeton), Kirk Duholm (Eagan), David Engels (Menahga), Lindsay Hewitt (Eden Prairie), Samantha Lee (Coon Rapids), Cathy Piepho (New Richland), Courtney Schurhammer (Rochester), and Thomas Wood (Rochester).
In addition, Steven Okins (Willmar) has been appointed to chair the Budgetary Oversight Committee during 2020.
The committees will resume work after the mid-December publication of the DNR’s Game and Fish Fund report for fiscal year 2019.
“We look forward to working with these Minnesotans and bringing diverse voices to the table,” said Bob Meier, DNR assistant commissioner. “The appointments continue our commitment to share detailed budget information, bring new participants into the oversight process and ensure revenue generated by hunting and fishing license sales is used appropriately.”
A total of 161 Minnesotans applied for oversight committee positions. Factors in choosing the new appointees included experience and personal commitment, as well as diversity in geography, demographics, and outdoor interests.
In the weeks ahead, each committee will select a committee chair and four members to serve on an umbrella Budgetary Oversight Committee (BOC). The BOC will produce an overall report on expenditures for game and fish activities. Those BOC report, which includes recommendations, is delivered to the DNR commissioner and legislative committees with jurisdiction over natural resources financing for further consideration.
These oversight committees continue a citizen oversight function first established by statute in 1994. Minnesota’s Game and Fish Fund is the fiscal foundation for much of the state’s core natural resource management functions. About $110 million a year is deposited into this fund from hunting and fishing license sales, a sales tax on lottery tickets, and other sources of revenue including a reimbursement based on a federal excise tax on certain hunting, fishing and boating equipment.
Past DNR Game and Fish Fund expenditure reports and citizen oversight committee reports are available at mndnr.gov/gamefishoversight.