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Minnesota Official Honored for Wetlands Work

April 2013

(Washington) The Environmental Law Institute has announced that Doug Norris, Wetland Program Coordinator for Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources, has received the 2013 National Wetlands Award for State, Tribal, and Local Program Development. Doug and six other award recipients were honored at a ceremony at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, DC on May 9, 2013.

 Doug has been at the forefront of wetlands protection and conservation in Minnesota for over 20 years. He began his career in wetlands conservation in 1991 – the same year Minnesota passed its landmark Wetlands Conservation Act. Since then, Doug has been a tireless advocate for Minnesota wetlands, championing their protection through regulation, monitoring, mapping, and restoration.

For example, in recent years, Doug has played a lead role in developing a comprehensive wetlands monitoring program for Minnesota. This has allowed the state to evaluate the status of its wetlands. “I have been very impressed, and more than a little envious, of what Doug has been able to accomplish for wetland inventory, monitoring, and assessment in Minnesota,” says Thomas Bernthal, Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “Doug’s work has made Minnesota a leader in wetland monitoring and assessment.”

 This success is all the more noteworthy given the setting in which it has occurred: administration of Minnesota’s wetland program requires coordination among three state agencies and one federal one, making it one of the more complicated wetlands program in the country. “For over 20 years, Doug has been a leader to coordinate, align, and effectively communicate administration of the program for various audiences,” says Mark Gernes, Research Scientist for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “Much of Minnesota’s wetland protection program success can be directly attributed to Doug.”

Jeanne Christie, Executive Director for the Association of State Wetland Managers, echoes this sentiment, “Doug is quick to give others credit for successful programs, and to take responsibility for decisions and trial efforts, but is clearly considered to be responsible for much of the success of Minnesota’s program.”

One of the keys to Doug’s success is his ability to work effectively with a variety of people in resolving challenging wetland issues. “Doug is an excellent communicator who is able to consistently connect with diverse audiences,” says David Weirens, Land and Water Section Manager for the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources. “His comments and input are always very thoughtful, succinct and well measured in terms of fairness and policy implications. Yet, he is more than an effective voice for government policy for Doug is always a tireless advocate for conservation and protection of Minnesota’s wetland resource.”

Through it all, Doug has remained modest about his accomplishments. “Wetland protection and management in Minnesota is shared among a large cast of federal, state and local agencies, as well as a number of non-profit groups,” adds Doug. “I am honored to receive this award on behalf of the many committed individuals who contribute to achieving our wetland goals.”

 The National Wetlands Awards program is administered by the Environmental Law Institute and supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Forest Service, and Federal Highway Administration. A committee of wetland experts representing federal, state and local governments, academia, and nonprofit organizations selected the award recipients. 

For more information on the National Wetlands Awards, visit www.nationalwetlandsawards.org or e-mail wetlandsawards@eli.org.

 The Environmental Law Institute:

Since 1969, ELI has played a pivotal role in shaping the fields of environmental law, policy, and management, domestically and abroad. Today, ELI is in its fifth decade as an internationally recognized, non-partisan research and education center working to strengthen environmental protection by improving law and governance worldwide.

ELI delivers insightful and impartial analysis to opinion makers, including government officials, environmental and business leaders, academics, members of the environmental bar, and journalists. The Institute is a clearinghouse and a town hall, providing common ground for debate on important environmental issues.