Despite his relatively short tenure, Keith Creagh, Director of Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) since last July, has already identified a couple of ways to improve the department’s operating efficiency.
Creagh draws on his experience in the private sector as Director of Industry Affairs for the Neogen Corporation, a Lansing-based developer of food and animal safety products, and as Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) for ideas on how to improve the DNR.
At a recent meeting with the Michigan Outdoor Writers Association (MOWA), Creagh shared a few of his thoughts on ways to improve the efficiency of the department's operations.
Creagh, a strong believer in decentralized decision making, believes the department could operate much more efficiently if personnel closest to an issue are given a larger say in the policy or decision making process.
Decentralized decision making would also apply to interactions with other state agencies or even across business units within the department. Creagh believes the DNR is too compartmentalized in its decision making. “The DNR is very strong individually, but not departmentally”, said Creagh, also referring to inter-departmental coordination as communications between “friendly competitors”.
Creagh also believes there are opportunities to better serve Michigan’s outdoors enthusiasts by partnering with local governments, other departments and non-profit groups.
Another area cited by Creagh as a way to improve operational efficiency is the simplification of Michigan’s hunting and fishing licenses. “Michigan currently has 227 different hunting and fishing licenses” said Creagh, who believes a reduction in the number of licenses would reduce enforcement and administrative costs. His views should be received favorably by the state’s anglers and hunters who frequently complain about the complexity of the current licensing system.
Creagh was also questioned by the writers on his position regarding a proposed wolf hunt. Creagh views hunting as an effective wolf management tool and another way to save money. “Managing the current wolf population costs the state nearly $150,000 per year”, said Creagh. By allowing a limited wolf hunt, the state could recoup some of the money it currently pays the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to shoot wolves that pose a threat to livestock or pets.
Creagh's ideas for improving the efficiency of the MDNR are by his own admission aggressive, but if successfully implemented, they should translate to improved services to all of Michigan’s outdoors enthusiasts.