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Minnesota Agencies

Information on Minnesota State Agencies, Boards, Task Forces, and Commissions

Compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library

Conservation Commission

Active dates:1925-1937

The Department of Conservation shall have and exercise all powers and rights and shall perform all the duties now by law imposed upon and vested in the Minnesota Land and Lakes Attraction Board, the Land Improvement Board, the Minnesota State Board of Immigration and the office of Commissioner of Immigration. Subject to the provisions of this act, the Department of Conservation shall have the care, improvement, supervision, control, and management of all state parks and state public camp grounds, and shall have and exercise all the rights, powers, and duties now imposed upon and vested in the state auditor, state forestry board, and the state forester insofar as they apply to state parks, state public camp grounds, state monument sites, and state lands withdrawn from sale as provided in this act. The Department of Conservation shall from time to time recommend to the state auditor a description of such lands as a majority of said commission shall in its judgment find desirable to be withheld from sale, for purpose of reforestation and timber reserves and for the preservation of water power sites and for other public purposes. The state auditor shall withhold from sale such lands, timber or water power sites as may be recommended by the Department of Conservation.

The Department of Conservation shall provide for the cooperation of the employes of each division of said department, and for that purpose the rangers, patrolmen, game wardens, and other employes of said department shall perform such additional duties as may be prescribed by the department. The department shall from time to time make such rules, regulations, and recommendations as will best conserve such natural resources of the state as are placed under its charge.


The Conservation Commission, as established in 1925, consisted of the commissioner of forestry and fire prevention, the commissioner of game and fish, and the state auditor as commissioner of lands and timber (Laws 1925, chap 426, art 4). Each member retained the respective duties formerly conferred upon the heads of the several departments composing the commission.

In addition, all the duties formerly conferred upon the Minnesota Land and Lakes Attractions Board (created by Laws 1919, chap. 166), the Land Improvement Board (created by Laws 1917, chap. 164), and the commissioner of immigration were transferred to the Conservation Commission.

Although the law provided for the creation of a Conservation Department, all of the various departments involved seem to have retained their autonomy. The commission had supervision, control, and management of all state parks and state public campgrounds. It took over the duties of the state auditor, State Forestry Board, and the state forester in so far as they applied to such parks and campgrounds and state monument sites. The commission was required to provide for the cooperation of the employees of each division under its control so that the natural resources of the state would be properly conserved.

In 1931 the Conservation Commission was abolished and replaced by a second commission with the same name (Laws 1931, chap. 186). This commission consisted of five members appointed by the governor. It formulated and directed the policies of the Department of Conservation, which was created to centralize all of the state's conservation and natural resources agencies into one unit, and appointed the state commissioner of conservation. This commission was abolished in 1937 and all of its functions and powers were transferred to the commissioner of conservation as head of the Conservation Department (Laws 1937, chap. 310).

Agency heads:

Commissioners: Ralph J. Ahlstrom, 1937; Richard R. Bailey, 1931-1937; Dr. B. F. Ederer, 1937; William M. Erickson, 1935-1936; Agency heads: John R. Foley, 1931-1937; George W. Friedrich, 1937; William E. McEwen, 1931-1933; Ernest R. Reiff, 1931-1935; James T. Williams, 1931-1933.

A century for the trees. Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, March/April 2011.
Record last updated: 04/16/2021

All information on this group from the Library’s collection of agency notebooks has been digitized. These materials are incorporated into the “documents/articles” section of the record. Please contact a librarian with any questions. The Minnesota Agencies database is a work in progress.

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