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DNR wildlife office leaving Willmar, forestry position ended

WILLMAR -- For the first time in more than half a century, Willmar is without the presence of a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife or forestry office.

The state's budget crisis has led to decisions to move the wildlife office and eliminate the forestry position.

The wildlife and forestry staffs have shared office space at 4566 Highway 71 North, Willmar for more than 10 years.

The DNR is eliminating the Willmar, Mankato and New Ulm forestry positions and not filling vacancies in other forestry positions throughout southern Minnesota, according to employees in the local office. Shane Delaney, DNR forestry senior specialist for the past five year in Willmar, transferred. He began duties on Monday with the DNR forestry office in Wannaska, located near Roseau in the state's northwest corner.

The DNR wildlife office is being moved to the former manager's residence within Sibley State Park, New London.

Wildlife Manager LeRoy Dahlke and assistant manager Jeff Miller will be operating out of their new location beginning July 1.

"It will work,'' said Dahlke of the move. He admits that he is concerned about getting the public acquainted with the new location. The DNR's wildlife office has been a part of Willmar since sometime in the 1950's. It was originally located on Litchfield Avenue in the former Piggly Wiggly building, today the home for the Heartland Community Church.