Department of Natural Resources insider Brad Parsons, who cut his teeth on walleye stocking practices and rose to become manager of a region that includes Mille Lacs, the Mississippi River, the St. Croix River and southeastern trout streams, is Minnesota’s new fisheries chief.
The 31-year veteran of the DNR will follow Don Pereira, who retired just two weeks ago after a similarly long career as a Minnesota natural resource manager. Parsons said Tuesday that he wants to deepen communications with rank-and-file anglers in the state at a time when scientists are grappling with invasive species and other rapid environmental changes in aquatic systems.
“Aligning changing systems with angler expectations is going to be one of the most important challenges,” he said.
Parsons, of St. Paul Park, will work out of the DNR’s headquarters in St. Paul. He was the agency’s central region fisheries manager under Pereira and has been a member of the 1837 Ceded Territory Fisheries Technical Committee that co-manages Mille Lacs. The committee and the DNR itself have been under intense sociological and political pressure for putting walleyes off limits to state-licensed anglers for the past several summers.
“We’ll be looking for opportunities for state anglers to harvest” walleyes, Parsons said.
He said his objective will require the DNR and the eight Minnesota and Wisconsin Chippewa bands to more deeply examine their respective Mille Lacs fishing goals.
“Hopefully we’ll find ways for the fishery to serve” a variety of interests, Parsons said.
Jim Leach, DNR Fish & Wildlife director, said Parsons was chosen for his combination of extensive field work, proven rapport inside the department and his strong knowledge of the state’s fish communities.
“He came up through the field ranks,” Leach said.
Starting July 25, Parsons will head a section with 286 employees, 29 area offices, 15 hatcheries and a $34 million budget. Parsons is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and holds an advanced fisheries degree from the University of Wyoming..