19 Minnesotans appointed to game and fish fund oversight committees

January 10, 2022


The group of Minnesota citizens that monitors fish and wildlife spending by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is in place for 2022.

DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen appointed 15 new members and reappointed four people to the oversight committees that are responsible for reviewing the DNR’s annual game and fish fund report in detail and, following discussions with agency leaders and others, preparing legislative reports on their findings.

New appointees to the Wildlife Oversight Committee (WOC) are Bruce Babcock of Greenbush; Brian Blom of Deerwood; Tim Buysse of Cottonwood; Mark Gutierrez of Vadnais Heights; Katrina Pulham of Rochester; Randall Tlachac of Plymouth; Ya Yang of Blaine; and John Zanmiller of West St. Paul.

New appointees to the Fisheries Oversight Committee (FOC) are Brian Bergson of St. Paul; Annetta Carter of St. Paul; Robert Harris III of Albert Lea; Judi Hart of Squaw Lake; Harold Poynter of Lake City; Dennise Sonnee of Isle; and Nik Snyder of Pine City.

Burl Haar of Afton and John Wells of St. Paul have been reappointed to the WOC, and Thomas Wood of Rochester and Kirk Duholm of Eagan have been reappointed to the FOC.

Nikki Bentley of Shoreview was reappointed to chair the Budgetary Oversight Committee. The BOC comprises the chairs of the FOC and WOC plus four additional members from each oversight committee.

“We look forward to working with these volunteers who are giving their time in service of hunters, anglers and conservation,” said Dave Olfelt, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division director. “The appointments continue our commitment to share detailed spending and 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 133 Minnesotans applied for oversight committee positions. Factors in choosing the new appointees included geographic distribution, demographic diversity and a mix of interests relating to hunting and fishing in Minnesota.

The BOC produces an annual report on expenditures for game and fish activities for the DNR commissioner and legislative committees with jurisdiction over natural resources funding. This annual report is published in mid-December.

Citizen oversight of Game and Fish Fund expenditures began in 1994. The Game and Fish Fund is the fiscal foundation for fish and wildlife management, habitat management and conservation officer funding.

About $110 million a year is deposited into this fund from hunting and fishing license sales; a sales tax on lottery tickets; and a federal excise tax on certain hunting, fishing and boating equipment.

State law requires that the Legislature allocate dollars from this special fund to the DNR for specific expenses detailed in a governor's budget request. The DNR cannot access dollars from this fund without legislative authorization and gubernatorial approval.

Additional information about how license dollars are spent and the oversight committees, their members and past reports are available on the DNR’s license dollar and budget oversight pages.

Check the DNR advisory groups pagefor information about all DNR standing advisory groups.