DNR gets new environmental administrator

Photo by Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources continues to undergo significant administrative changes under Governor Terry Branstad. Last week Wayne Gieselman, the Environmental Protection Division Administrator, was pressured into resigning. Gieselman worked at the DNR for 12 years in total, and held this most recent position for over nine years. Long time farmer and environmental activist Bill Ehm took over as administrator last Friday. The Des Moines Register reports that Ehm is qualified to fill this new role:

Ehm raises broiler chickens near his hometown of Creston. He is co-founder of Smart Chicken, which raises chickens without using antibiotics or hormones. Ehm said he never has been cited for an environmental violation.

Over the years, Ehm has held a variety of environmental posts at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land stewardship and at DNR. Before becoming a state employee, Ehm served from 1989 to 2000 as Branstad’s appointee on the policy-making Iowa Environmental Protection Commission.

Ehm has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from Iowa State University and a master’s of business administration degree from Drake University.

David Goodner of the nonprofit environmental group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement said the move isn’t surprising, given the change in governors earlier this year. He predicted Ehm would be well-received.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ press release notes more of Ehm’s achievements:

Ehm has served as the water policy coordinator for DNR since 2007. Prior to that, he served as director of the Soil and Conservation Division for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and was previously the coordinator for the DNR’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) water quality program. He farmed full-time for more than 20 years and he and his wife continue to own a cash grain farm in Clinton County and a livestock operation in Union County. He is a former commissioner for the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission.

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