ANNAPOLIS -- In 1991 look for a reorganized Department of Natural Resources more responsive to changing times and needs of our outdoor resources -- and those who use many of the department's facilities.
Upon gubernatorial renewal of his appointment, DNR secretary Torrey C. Brown promptly reorganized his 1,200-member force. The streamlined results promise more involvement with the private sector. Happy New Year outdoorsmen.
Coming up is a reshuffling of assistant secretaries and other managers, and a realignment of divisions under them -- including returning freshwater fisheries to the same jurisdiction as wildlife. Currently it is within tidewater fisheries where many bass and trout anglers consider it overshadowed by bay species management.
Don MacLauchlan will head up the new Division of Fish, Wildlife and Forestry. In addition to freshwater fish and wildlife, he will decide reforestation and forest harvest programs. Under him, Bob Bachman will remain in charge of freshwater fisheries.
Placing wildlife and inland fishes together makes sense. They involve the same tracts of state lands, and both are heavily dependent on many state forest renewal and reforestation programs to be handled by MacLauchlan.
Jim Peck will remain in charge of marine associated affairs, but added to his division is shore erosion control. In addition, he will have the Tidewater Administration -- which will continue to be headed by Paul Massicot -- DNR Police and the Boating Administration. Pete Jensen will continue to cover marine fisheries programs under Massicot.
Assistant secretary for administration Jim Dunmyer moves over to the Public Lands Division, and serving under him will be Rick Barton, whose responsibilities will be parks and people programs, state parks and forests, activities programs, and engineering and construction. Mike Nelson, now assistant secretary of capital programs, will head acquisition, preservation, Open Space, Greenways and Maryland Environmental Trust among others.
A new assistant secretary will be named for the Administration Division, which covers fiscal and supportive service, capital budget, information and licensing. Herb Sachs will remain as chief of water resources projects, Maryland Geological Survey, Maryland Environmental Services and hazardous waste facilities siting.
Ed Mason, chief of information, will be in charge of publications and electronic media and the DNR Foundation.
So what does all of this mean in 1991 and beyond? Expanded programs more responsive to the needs of users as well as more flexibility in managing the resources, said Brown, who envisions such things as getting more people involved in DNR's resources and activities. He foresees last year's 15,000 volunteers eventually trebled; an enlarged DNR Foundation with many joining up, and significantly increased forest and park programs both formal and informal.
Great strides have been made in park activities since Gov. Schaefer's edict several years ago to provide more public programs in forests and parks. And the public has responded; from 6.4 million users annually to 9.5 million and still growing.
DNR Service Centers will be rejuvenated, and become more involved in projects and services within the public relations section. They will do much more than issue permits and licenses, Brown said. And always controversial forest harvesting, preservation and reforestation will be a more compact unit.
A priority with Brown is reversing the loss of trees -- a subject known to be dear to the heart of the governor. Brown hopes the loss can be reversed within five years. The same for shoreside development. Non-tidal wetlands, including the creation of new ones, also will rate priority, he added.
Brown makes no rash promises on Canada geese, but is heartened they seem to be making a comeback under tightened regulations. Nor are there any promises for rockfish other than to "keep being as careful as we have been."