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Nationally recognized wildlife expert, Iowa’s Dale Garner retires from the Iowa DNR

  • 9/29/2020 1:14:00 PM
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Longtime leader with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Dr. Dale Garner, will retire on Sept. 30, after serving the people of Iowa for more than 25 years.

"I am forever grateful for Dale’s many years of service to our state,” said Kayla Lyon, director of the Iowa DNR. “His invaluable expertise and knowledge of wildlife is unparalleled and he has been an incredible benefit to the state of Iowa and beyond. Iowans should be very proud of Dale’s dedication and passion to Iowa’s natural resources during his tenure." 

Garner spent most of his career in the Wildlife Bureau beginning as a research biologist for forest wildlife species in the Chariton office in 1995, before moving to Des Moines in 2001 to become the coordinator of the North American Wetland Conservation Act grant programs and other special projects, like heading up the chronic wasting disease program.

He was promoted to chief of the Wildlife Bureau in 2004, then promoted to administrator over the division that houses Fisheries; Parks, Forests and Preserves; Engineering, Land and Waters; Law Enforcement and Wildlife bureaus in 2017.

Throughout his career, Garner managed by the philosophy of keeping the resource first.

“That should always be number one,” he said. “Public places belong to the citizens of this state. We’re just the custodians of them. Our job is to manage these resources in perpetuity.”

That philosophy goes back decades and can be seen first hand in the form of the restoration of Iowa’s shallow lakes, the forward-looking forest stewardship plans, restored lakes, the number of trout streams supporting naturally reproducing trout, converting upland areas into high quality, diverse native prairies and the efforts to restore and update Iowa’s state parks.

“What an opportunity to work in natural resources for those of us fortunate enough to do that,” he said. “It’s just a blessing.”

Garner, a Wisconsin native, received his Ph.D. in Environmental and Forest Biology, from the State University of New York at Syracuse.