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Letters: A message to stakeholders

On Thursday of this week, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Mark Holsten announced that the DNR Division of Ecological Resources and the DNR Division of Waters will be integrated into one division over the coming year. This is a department strategy to transform our collective capacity to grapple with the enormous challenges of protecting and managing Minnesota's water resources, rare plants and animals, biodiversity, and the ecological integrity of our watersheds and landscapes.

We recognize that many of you may have questions and comments about this integration. Over the coming year, we will create a number of formal and informal opportunities for stakeholder participation in this division transformation.

In the meantime, please feel free to contact me or members of my immediate staff with any questions, comments, or perspectives you might have. Call 651-259-5100 or e-mail Steve Hirsch at

Change is nothing new to the DNR or the Division of Ecological Resources. Over the past three years, the division has been changing its organizational structure to meet new and emerging ecological resource challenges. The division integration announced by the Commissioner is another opportunity to enhance our capacity.

As we create this new unit, we will capitalize on the scientific and management strengths of our two divisions. We will also rely on the commitment and dedication of conservation stakeholders to help us succeed in this important endeavor.

Last November, the citizens of Minnesota sent a strong message to state government. They said fix the problems of clean water and abundant habitat. Commissioner Holsten has just asked Ecological Resources and the Division of Waters to step up to this enormous challenge. With your help, we can do it.

In closing, let me thank the stakeholders for all the good work you do on behalf of conservation in Minnesota. We truly appreciate your efforts and the support you give to our work. We look forward to working together with you and others as we move Minnesota from "good to great."

Steve Hirsch, director, Division of Ecological Services, St. Paul