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ODNR Decimates Leadership of Wildlife Division

Discussion in 'Sound Off' started by BillsCustomCalls, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. My biggest fear beyond reallocation of license fees is spending the matching funds that exist to attain federal funding. Read paragraph 5 of the linked article. I have worked with federal grants in the past and this is a requirement for a variety of institutions. If the DNR robs the kitty then DOW is not eligible to receive the excise funds for projects.
  2. Yes, that is a great point. Ohio is eligible to receive 75% federal reimbursement of qualifying expenses. DOW's fish and wildlife mgt programs are highly dependent on those federal dollars. If a state doesn't spend enough money to get all of the federal funds for which they are eligible, they are leaving federal money on the table. Some states are already doing this! They give up a 75% federal reimbursement of expenses because they don't want constraints on how it can be spent. For example, if Ohio laws were changed to allow it, $1 million of DOW license revenue could be sent to Parks with no reimbursement rather than getting $750 k back, let's say for a hatchery. But a $750 k reimbursement only helps DOW, not Parks, hence justifies DNR to forego the reimbursement. Current laws have to be protected.

  3. The writing is on the wall. The Dow didn't push for the money. The odnr did.They got it! Another instance the Dow failed by their own sword!

    It makes me sick to see the way the panel of 8 got on the board its all political! (Look at their credentials) The choices they have made are now biting them in the arse.

    They couldn't even keep their ship afloat money wise.(Not asking for a hike)Yet they made decisions to effect the whole state! Wich 90 percent of sportsman would say they f......d up! These faces will be the faces that killed the Dow.

    When odnr has to step in and raise prices on the tags someone's asleep at the wheel! Hmmm....... Truths in the pudding!

    Steak holders group kiss that goodbye. The writing is on the wall!
  4. Bawana

    Bawana Staff Member Mod

    Not sure what you're reading or where. DOW asked for the license increase ODNR was against it, When the non resident increase passed, ODNR cleaned house at the DOW.
  5. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who was confused by his post. Totally upside down view of what reality is in this instance.
    cambridgezowie likes this.
  6. R. Toker likes this.
  7. pulled this off facebook- had to borrow someones facebook cause I dont have one lol
    Most of this info has been shared here but thought I would post as it came from a Wildlife council member.
    Posted on ODNR facebook page-
    "I've posted on this page to try and bring awareness of an effort to dismantle and centralize the ODOW into a one size fits all agency under the ODNR by Governor Kasich and the Department of Natural Resource's top brass. I'm just a small spoke in the wheel of concerned insiders trying to prevent that and our message has been met with skepticism and apathy. It has even been called fake news. If you didn't care before, you need to pay attention to what is happening right now. The agenda to destroy the Division of Wildlife financially then use that to sell the idea of dismantling self funded DOW and combining it with other agencies within the ODNR to the legislature is happening right under our noses.

    I think a quick lesson on the difference of ODNR and ODOW is in order. The ODNR is a large department that includes divisions of Wildlife, Parks & Watercraft (those 2 have already been combined so right now boat registration fees we pay to fund enforcement, safety programs, etc are being shared with Parks), Forestry, Water, Minerals and Oil, and a few more. Only Watercraft and Wildlife were self funded through license/permit sales and fines. The rest were mostly general fund supported. There is a director of ODNR James Zehringer who has assistants Fred Shimp and Gary Obermiller. Each division has chiefs. Director Zehringer reports directly to the Governor. He and his top people have targeted the DOW and it's revenue we sportsmen generate in the form of user fees...license and share that money with the non revenue generating divisions within the ODNR.

    Step by step the process is in motion right now.

    Step 1- Modest license and permit increases for both residents and non-residents in the recently approved bi-annual budget bill would have allowed the DOW to remain self funded and continue to serve sportsmen and women in Ohio. 41 conservation groups pushed for it but were hand cuffed by a direct gag order from ODNR brass to the DOW. Do not discuss license increases or get fired. Meanwhile the director and his people lobbied hard against increases while the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance took the lead and tried to enlist sportsmen and women of Ohio to press their legislators to support it. In the end, the resident increase was removed and the budget was passed with license fee increases for non-residents only to be will be "phased in" over a 3 year period which further delays revenue. Simply put....the people behind this agenda stacked the deck, worked hard, and won. They've openly said more than once "sportsmen don't care enough to stop us". Sadly they were right. Now the door has open to raid the coffers we sportsmen pay into for licenses and permits and share it with other divisions.

    Step 2- Last Friday Director Zehringer fired the highly dedicated and tireless DOW Chief Ray Petering, who like the rest of the top DOW brass is a biologist that worked his way through the ranks to become a highly effective visionary. No reason given, just terminated. Zehringer couldn't even communicate the action accurately in his memo to the ODNR staff, his voice mail to me or other Wildlife Council members, or his press release. His message was "Ray has returned to retirement". He is replaced by a former Watercraft Enforcement officer Mike Miller who will likely do exactly what he's told.

    Step 3- Mike Miller replaced all but 2 top administrators in the DOW with political appointees. The biologists who worked their way through the ranks for decades to reach those positions have been replaced by political appointments. Neither the new chief or either assistant chiefs have a biology background. 2 are enforcement and one was with the Department of Aging before coming to the ODNR. All the former administrators were offered positions in....guess where???? Yep. The recently combined Division of Parks and Watercraft. Attached is a link to yesterday's press release from U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance.…/odnr-decimates-leaders…/

    This reeks of a pending merger.

    Step 4- Terms of 2 members of the Ohio Wildlife Council expired last January. Charlie Franks, who's not missed a single meeting in 31 years of service, and Larry Mixon who's served 16 years, have not been replaced or re-appointed. Most insiders believe this is a move to start the process of eliminating the Council. This has to be done legislatively but this group has shown it's ability to lobby.

    We are now headed down the dangerous road of several other states that have allowed their fish and wildlife to be managed through politics rather than science. Ohio will soon be subject to the same disasters those states are experiencing because this group firmly believes the sportsmen and women of Ohio don't care enough to stop them. I am not giving up yet and I sincerely hope the rest of the passionate sportsmen in Ohio stop turning a blind eye to this. Get involved. Support the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance. They are fighting right now for us but they need a loud voice from all of us to send the message that we want Ohios fish and game managed by biologists in a stand alone, self funded Division of Wildlife.

    Eric Hirzel
    Vice Chairman, Ohio Wildlife Council"
  8. Thanks for sharing. I've informed our local PF chapter. I'm surprised PF Ohio hasn't brought all of Ohio's chapters into the loop.
  9. most of you are years late the state started year 2 of Kasich's first term...I said year 4 that things had gone horribly wrong and met with nothing but supporters of Kasich and the direction the DNR had taken.

    Kasich sold the states natural resources and anything else he could to whoever would support his run for the W.H. with the intention of doing the same to the country as he has done for the state.

    Kasich took the hard work and patience of the hunter and raped it repeatedly. If there is a short fall in revenue it's because he's ruined deer hunting in the state and deserves no increase in fee's keeping the state doing the same for years to come. Take the money out of it and those in it for the money will go somewhere else and leave us alone.
    tracker 6 likes this.
  10. Schu72

    Schu72 Staff Member Super Mod Mod

    I sent an email today to the Ohio Republican Party and stated if Zehringer and Obermiller were still in their positions come election time they could count on zero votes for any republican candidate from my household.
    bilman63 likes this.
  11. I also voiced my opposition and stated that every sportsperson in Ohio would remember this come time to cast our vote.
  12. I did the same thing a few days ago, to Kasich.
  13. The only problem is the Ohio Democrat party is a complete joke. Would you really want to vote for some of the characters they nominate? I can't do it, regardless of this issue.
    jrose likes this.
  14. Sad when you think about it. What will hunting be for the next generation in Ohio???
    I have been looking to buy a piece of property in southeast Ohio to put a cabin on. Don't know if it will be worth doing. Maybe start shopping for a piece of ground in Ky or another outdoors friendly state.
    I know if they screw this up, I'll be moving out of Ohio when I retire!!!
  15. Sometimes I try to post my thoughts and they don't come out as I intended them to. What I'm saying is the odnr is the ones winning I guess.

    New Division of Wildlife Chief Mike Miller (third from left) at the ribbon cutting for the new canoe access sites on Ohio Brush Creek this past April.

    By Tom Cross –

    You had to know it was coming. After the bruising battle the Division of Wildlife (DOW) waged against the Ohio Department of Natural Resources over resident license fee increases, some heads were going to roll. The first sent into retirement was DOW Chief Ray Petering, replaced with Mike Miller, who was named the new Chief of the Division of Wildlife on July 5.
    Miller comes to the Division with a long pedigree of accomplishments and was former chief of the Division of Watercraft. Miller’s roots are from law enforcement, spending 20 years with DOW as the Knox County wildlife office and later supervisor, winning numerous awards and recognition for his law enforcement efforts. Miller was also instrumental locally in helping Adams County Tourism secure a $15,000 grant to build two new canoe access sites on Ohio Brush Creek.
    ODNR Director James Zehringer commented, “Mike brings an experienced wildlife law enforcement perspective to the position along with some creative ideas in regard to helping the Division thrive. I believe Mike will bring energy and focus to the chief’s role that will help us provide additional opportunities and access for our hunters, trappers and anglers.”
    Troubles for the DOW begin when former DOW chief Petering made the comment, “doing 2017 programs on 2004 money” and begin pushing for an increase in resident hunting and fishing license fees. Taking its cue from Chief Petering, the Ohio Sportsmen’s Alliance assembled a coalition of sportsmen groups at times referred to as “The Orange Hat Brigade”. The Ohio Wildlife Counsel sent an open letter to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) requesting an increase in resident hunting and fishing licenses, predicting a budget shortfall at DOW in the near future.
    An increase in non-resident license fees had already been agreed to in House Bill 49 being debated in the Ohio Senate. The Wildlife Counsel’s letter blindsided the leadership of ODNR who were already solidly behind a non-resident license fee increase. The movement snowballed and more Ohio sportsmen’s groups entered the fray. However ODNR and the Kasich administration stood firm against any license increase for Ohio resident hunters and fishermen.
    In a letter dated April 25, ODNR Director Zehringer laid out his opposition to a resident fee increase. “You don’t have to be an economist to understand that increased cost means decreased participation. Raising fees on Ohioans should be a last option not a first.”
    That’s when things turned ugly against Governor Kasich and the leadership of ODNR. Some outdoor columnists were openly calling for Director Zehringer’s resignation. A Facebook page sprang up called “Save the Ohio Division of Wildlife” in which a daily dose of the ongoing tug of war between to two agencies was daily fodder. Conspiracy theories and rumors were often posted about ODNR and the tone of the debate sounded more like Washington DC.
    In early May, six former DOW chiefs sent an open letter to Governor Kasich supporting a fee increase for resident hunters and fishermen. Another open letter to Kasich from “Ultimate Upland” suggested appointing the DOW to a cabinet level position, increasing resident hunting and fishing license fees $7, adding a $10 fee for anyone accessing public land, charging a special fee for upland bird hunting, and tying all future license fee increases into inflation.
    But perhaps the most damaging event was a resignation letter from former DOW chief and Kasich adviser Mike Budzik to the governor accusing ODNR of “having no regard for the sportsmen and women of Ohio and no respect for the organizations that represent them.”
    The intensity of the debate changed from one of policy to an actual challenge to the Kasich administration over who is governing the Ohio Division of Wildlife. The DOW had now sparked a polarizing debate that was also engulfing sportsmen, driving a wedge between those who sided with the DOW and those who did not want a license fee increases. The only rare agreement between those two camps was to increase non-resident fees. The rhetoric has only intensified with the recent firing of chief Petering.
    At an Ohio Senate sub-committee hearing, testimony was given from both sides of the now bitter debate between ODNR and DOW. The DOW turned to an offense of intense lobbying from sportsmen’s groups that had proven successful in the past. Senator Joe Uecker said the Senate was under intense pressure from DOW supporters to raise resident license fees. Language was even drafted that would raise fishing licenses to $24, and deer and turkey permits to $29.
    In the final bill, no such resident fee increases were included in Senate budget H.B. 49 signed by Kasich last week. The DOW gambled that their supporters could eventually swing the Senate against the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The Ohio Sportsmen’s Alliance, as expected, is spinning this into a victory. However, their real objective of raising resident hunting and fishing license fees fell short, sending a grim signal to the DOW. To that end, ODNR removed the civil servant protected classification on the Assistant Chief to unclassified thus leaving them unprotected. The Ohio Senate backed the leadership role of ODNR and as a result the Division of Wildlife got a new boss.
    In the recently passed Senate bill, non-resident deer permits increased from $24 to $250. Non-resident turkey permits went from $24 to $75 and fees for non-resident hunting licenses went up from $125 to $175. Fees for non-resident fishing licenses will increase to $50.
    Active duty personnel in the armed forces while on leave or furlough can purchase a deer or turkey permit at a resident rate regardless of whether a person is a resident of the state. For Ohio residents, fees for hunting and fishing license and permits remain unchanged.
    Update: More shake up at the Division of Wildlife. On the morning of July 10, assistant DOW chief Susan Vance and Scott Hale have been reassigned to Parks and Watercraft. Replacing them at the Division of Wildlife are Scott Sharpe and Mike Luers. Sharpe had a previous career with Parks and Wildlife. Luers comes from Human Resources at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The change was made to assist Mike Miller in his transition as the new Chief of the Division of Wildlife. .........

    With that said it looks like Dow will play ball or fall If odnr can higher and fire Dow chiefs and leaders how can it be stopped from them taking over the Dow? When the Odnr is setting the deck? What am I missing here?
  16. Sandals are often worn as a statement.
  17. Haha....first thing I noticed were the sandals. Never trust a guy in sandals haha
  18. Decisions, decisions..... Which turd do you choose ???