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Minnesota DNR realignment emphasizes wildlife habitat program

A new emphasis at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has led to the appointment of Bob Welsh as the manager of the state’s wildlife habitat program.

Welsh has been an assistant regional wildlife manager for the past six years. His new job is to oversee the forest, wetland and prairie-farmland habitat programs.

Officials said that in the past, habitat management was handled by many employees in the wildlife section who often had other pressing duties.

“Habitat management is the heart and soul of wildlife management,” said Dennis Simon, DNR wildlife section chief. “We have realigned staff to put additional emphasis on the needs of ducks, pheasants and other game species.”

 Welsh’s new job will include identifying habitat improvement opportunities and turning them into realities that benefit hunters and others.

“The urgent was overtaking the important,” Simon says. “So, we retooled. We haven’t added staff, but we have realigned to increase our emphasis on habitat, especially as it relates to helping the state put Legacy Amendment dollars do their best and highest use.”

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The DNR said Welsh’s specific duties include oversight of:

  • A prairie habitat team led by Bill Penning that will focus on agricultural-related issues; the state’s new hunter Walk-In Area program; prairie habitat research and assessment; and partnerships that result in large blocks of habitat by coordinating state, federal and nonprofit conservation opportunities.
  • A forest wildlife habitat team led by Cynthia Osmundson that will focus on the habitat needs of deer, moose and other forest species. It will be composed of forest-wildlife habitat coordinators, a ruffed grouse coordinator, a habitat assessment specialist and others.
  • A wetland habitat team that will work with Ducks Unlimited and others to manage projects related to wild rice, shallow lakes, seasonal wetlands, wetland-grassland complexes and providing technical advice to private landowners. A team leader will be appointed soon.

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