The Department of Natural Resources commissioner has announced appointees to two newly created citizen oversight committees that monitor fish and wildlife spending by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The new committees, the Wildlife Oversight Committee and the Fisheries Oversight Committee (FOC), are the result of recent legislation aimed at streamlining and improving the efficiency of long-standing citizen Game and Fish Fund oversight committees created in 1994.
The 25 citizen appointees are responsible for reviewing the agency's annual Game and Fish Fund report. After discussions with agency leaders and others, the citizen committees write a report on their findings of this review. The FOC and the WOC begin work soon after the mid-December publication of the DNR's Game and Fish Report for fiscal year 2011.
"We look forward to working with these citizen volunteers," said Bob Meier, DNR policy and government relations director. "By sharing budget information and getting input from citizens, we increase transparency of our funding decisions. It's a process that assures license buyers and legislators that these funds are targeted at fish and wildlife programs, and we're pleased about that."
The DNR's Game and Fish Fund is the fiscal foundation for much of the state's natural resource management. The $90 million fund gets its revenue from the sales of hunting and fishing licenses and fish and wildlife stamps; a sales tax on lottery tickets; a reimbursement based on a federal excise tax on hunting, fishing and boating equipment; and other sources.
The fund pays for the fish, wildlife, enforcement and ecological management that support 54,000 jobs in Minnesota's outdoor recreation and hospitality business.
Four representatives from each committee will be selected to serve on an umbrella Budgetary Oversight Committee, chaired by John Hunt, vice chair with Minnesota Trout Unlimited.
The BOC will develop recommendations for a biennial budget plan and an overall report on expenditures for game and fish activities. Those recommendations will be forwarded for further consideration to the DNR commissioner and to legislative committees with jurisdiction over natural resources financing.
Meier said some committee members have previous budget oversight experience. Others don't.
"However, all have a strong interest in ensuring that hunting and fishing license dollars are spent wisely," he said. More than 50 people applied for oversight committee positions. Factors in choosing the new appointees included a mix of hunting and angling interests, geographic distribution, and past experience with oversight of the Game and Fish Fund.
Appointed by DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr are:
Fisheries Oversight Committee
John Christian, Apple Valley; Lance Frank, Albert Lea; Marj Hart, St. Michael; Jeff Johnson, New London; John Lenczewski, Eden Prairie; Craig Pagel, Duluth; Peter Perovich, Ramsey; Charles Prokop, Hugo; Ryan Saulsbury, Baxter; John Schneider, Roseville; George Selcke, Minnetonka; Dave Thompson, Battle Lake; Pao Yang, St. Paul.
Wildlife Oversight Committee (WOC)
Kevin Bigalke, Lakeville; Jeff Byrne, Victoria; William Faber, Brainerd; Mark Jeffrey Flen, Lakeville; Cody Fox, Austin; Chuck Kartak, North Branch; Jerome Roehl, Walker; Deb Luzinski, Woodbury; Steve Okins, Willmar; Paul Spyhalski, Austin; Kong siab Thao, Little Canada; Robert Theobald, Owatonna.