DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen announced in a press release Monday  she has named Shannon Lotthammer assistant commissioner overseeing divisions of Forestry, Parks and Trails and Operations Services. Lotthammer was a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency assistant commissioner for water policy and the agency’s agriculture and tribal liaison.

Strommen also said the DNR’s four regional directors and five of the agency’s seven division directors have been retained, including regional directors Rita Albrecht, northwest region (Bemidji); Patty Thielen, northeast region (Grand Rapids); Keith Parker, central region (St. Paul); and Scott Roemhildt, southern region (New Ulm).

Ecological and Water Resources Division Director Steve Colvin; Enforcement Director Rodmen Smith; Forestry Director Forrest Boe; Operations Services Director Laurie Martinson; and Parks and Trails Director Erika Rivers also will continue in their positions.

Meanwhile, Fish and Wildlife Division Director Jim Leach, after a 37-year career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and nearly three years in his current role at the DNR, will retire.

“I want to thank Jim Leach for the strong experience he brought to the DNR from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” Strommen said, citing his leadership roles in developing critical plans for deer management, fisheries management at Lake Vermilion and Lake of the Woods, and chronic wasting disease. “Jim is a true professional and I’m grateful for his natural resources contributions to DNR and the entire state over a long career in public service.''

Lands and Minerals Director Jess Richards was recently named an assistant commissioner, leaving Fish and Wildlife and Lands and Minerals divisions in need of leadership.

Grant Wilson will be interim director of the Fish and Wildlife Division when Leach retires in mid-February. Wilson is now the division’s policy and planning supervisor. Susan Damon will fill in as interim director of  Lands and Minerals; she is an assistant director of the division.

Strommen said Sherry Enzler, the agency’s general counsel, and Chris Niskanen, the agency’s chief communications officer, will retain their jobs.