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DNR names Lori Dowling as Bemidji regional director


Lori Dowling

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has named Lori Dowling as director of its regional headquarters in Bemidji, which serves 23 counties in northwestern Minnesota.

She replaces Mike Carroll, who has become an assistant DNR commissioner for field operations and community outreach.Dowling brings a strong leadership and political background to the DNR, with experience in forestry, waters and economic development. Born and raised on a small beef and crop farm in northern Minnesota (Goodland), she grew up with family traditions in hunting, fishing, outdoor recreation and logging.

“I have a lifelong passion for Minnesota’s natural resources and youth,” said Dowling, a former Itasca County commissioner. “I am thrilled to have this opportunity to bring my experience and passion to the DNR as the agency strives to improve its relationships with northwestern counties and to engage our youth in outdoor recreation.”

Dowling’s job will focus on community outreach. She will work with local units of government, tribes and cooperators in promoting a unified DNR effort to enhance the economic, recreational and conservation uses of Minnesota’s natural resources.

Among the key tasks and issues Dowling will face are water management in the Red River Valley; the interface of natural lands with agriculture; outreach to new and existing recreational users; a review of state land holdings in counties with large public land bases; and coordination of DNR activities in the region.

Dowling served as Itasca County commissioner from 2006-2010. She worked on several conservation projects, including the Itasca County Pilot Program to prevent land parcelization. She received an award for her advocacy of the Upper Mississippi Forest Project. She served as vice chair of the Mississippi Headwaters Board and facilitated a project to protect and promote the river’s headwaters.

As county commissioner, Dowling served on the Tribal Affairs Task Force, Association of Minnesota Counties Environmental Committee, the Minnesota Rural Counties Caucus, and was appointed to the Chippewa National Forest Resource Allocation Committee.

Dowling is member of the Grand Rapids and Deer River chambers of commerce. She is currently the director of education and youth programs for St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Grand Rapids. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theology from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn.

Dowling begins her new job Friday, May 6.


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