The late Bob Anderson of International Falls is being remembered at Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council as a conservationist dedicated to openness and fair play in the handling of all proposed projects.
Anderson, 77, was serving his second term as chairman of the council when he died unexpectedly Sept. 20. His funeral was Friday.
“We’re all going to miss him greatly,” Lessard-Sams Executive Director Mark Johnson said. “He did a really good job of keeping that middle of the road. He made sure everything received input.”
The 12-person council provides annual funding recommendations to the Legislature for conservation projects throughout the state. The scope of yearly funding has averaged about $100 million, and this year’s recommendations — headed for council action on Oct. 7 — will cover outdoors projects worth $120 million.
Acting Lessard-Sams Council Chairman David Hartwell said Anderson’s steady leadership is reflected in the council’s success in winning legislative approval.
“For the most part our recommendations have passed unscathed, which means our process has worked really well,” Hartwell said.
The acting chairman, who founded the Minnesota Land Trust and is an adviser or board member at many businesses, nonprofits and foundations, said he didn’t always agree with Anderson on issues but enjoyed a friendly relationship with him.
“He was a gentleman who listened to people,” Hartwell said of Anderson.
Lessard-Sams council member Ron Schara described Anderson as a “very even-keeled kind of guy’’ who expressed interest in a wide range of natural resource issues.
One of the few topics that sparked outward emotion in Anderson was forestry and forest management, Schara said.
“I think he was frustrated by the ‘don’t cut’ philosophy,” Schara said.
Anderson worked 51 years for the paper mill in International Falls, 25 of those years as public affairs manager for Boise Cascade Corp. He also was active in the Minnesota Forest Industries, Wood Fiber Council and belonged to the Minnesota Forestry Association.
Johnson said Anderson’s fairness was recognized by Democrats and Republicans. The state Senate appointed him twice to Lessard-Sams — once in 2013 under DFL control and again in 2017 under Republican control. Anderson’s latest term on the council was set to expire in January 2021.
Johnson said the council will decide over the next 45 days how to reset itself. There’s been some dissatisfaction within the council that two former legislators are serving in seats reserved for “citizens.” The board was chartered to have eight citizens and four legislators as members.