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Minnesota Agencies

Information on Minnesota State Agencies, Boards, Task Forces, and Commissions

Compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library

Natural Resources Department

Also known as:
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Active dates:1971-

The commissioner shall have charge and control of all the public lands, parks, timber, waters, minerals, and wild animals of the state and of the use, sale, leasing, or other disposition thereof, and of all records pertaining to the performance of the commissioner's functions relating thereto. (M.S. 84.01, Subd. 2)


In 1971 the name of the Conservation Department was changed to the Department of Natural Resources (Laws 1969 c1129). At that time the department's Administrative Division was made up of five service bureaus: Business Management, Engineering, Information and Education, Planning, and Legal Services. The operational divisions of the department at that time were: Game and Fish; Lands and Forestry; Parks and Recreation; Waters, Soils, and Minerals; and Enforcement and Field Service. The law also abolished the state Geographic Board and transferred all of its power and duties to the commissioner of natural resources.

During the period from 1972 to 1974 the department underwent a reorganization toward decentralization and regionalization. Five regions covering the state were established with offices in Bemidji, Grand Rapids, Brainerd, New Ulm, and Rochester. The regional administrators are responsible to the commissioner of natural resources and each is responsible for managing all resources within the region. This regional concept was implemented to expedite the transaction of affairs between the public and the department. Services, permits, decisions, and general information, formerly available only through the department headquarters in St. Paul, are now available at each regional office. During the 1972-1974 reorganization period, modifications were also made in the structure of the Administrative Division. A Bureau of Land was added to coordinate all land activities of the department, including land acquisition and supervision of leasing and sale of state lands. A Field Services Unit was created to coordinate use, purchase, and maintenance of equipment and vehicles. A Trails Section was established to coordinate establishment and use of land and water trails.


The department is headed by a commissioner of natural resources who is appointed by the governor. The commissioner has charge and control of all the public lands, parks, timber, waters, minerals, and wildlife of the state and their use, sale, leasing, or other disposition. He is also responsible for encouraging programs promoting the safe use of watercraft and firearms and has jurisdiction over the harvest of wild rice from public waters. He has jurisdiction over the state parks and waysides, state-owned forest land, and over a thousand miles of recreational trails. He is also responsible for providing fire protection within the state's forests. All of these functions are accomplished through the Information and Education Bureau, the divisions of Enforcement, Fish and Wildlife, Forestry, Minerals, Parks and Recreation, and Waters, and the administrative bureaus of Engineering, Field Services, Financial Management, Land, Licensing, Management Systems, Personnel, Records, and the Office of Planning.

Agency heads:

Commissioner; term, 4 years or pleasure of governor


Conservation Department included for 1955-1971.

Note: The Legislative Reference Library may have additional reports on or by this group available through our catalog.
Record last updated: 02/06/2019

Additional print information on this group may be available in the Library's collection of agency notebooks. Please contact a librarian for assistance. The Minnesota Agencies database is a work in progress.

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