May 31, 2012 | by Perry Beeman | Des Moines Register

DNR is a diverse agency that runs parks, wildlife areas and prairies in addition to regulating air and water pollution, landfills, wildlife management, and hunting and fishing programs. The department also develops water trails on parks, and patrols lakes. The $120 million annual budget supports a staff of 1,100 full- and part-time workers.

Gipp, a one-time dairy farmer and former state soil conservation director, most recently served as deputy director of DNR. The Decorah native and Luther College graduate in physical education, is a former House majority leader. He got his start in politics investigating pollution issues at a private landfill next to his dairy operation in Decorah. Gipp loves to canoe the Upper Iowa River. He has hunted and fished at times, but not in recent years because he didn’t have time.

“We are a regulatory agency have a responsibility to preserve and protect our natural resources and to provide outdoor recreation,” Gipp said.

Gipp, 64, said he does not plan to change the director or staff at DNR. “We do not expect wholesale changes,” he said in an interview. Gipp added that he plans to serve until Branstad leaves office.

Former U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service worker Bruce Trautman becomes the new deputy director tomorrow. Trautman, an authority on the Farm Bill and an avid outdoorsman, worked in Fairfield for NRCS.

Representatives of the Iowa Environmental Council and the Iowa Association of Business and Industry have said they look forward to working with Gipp, while the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement have criticized him for being too close to agricultural interests. “My legislative record speaks for itself,” and includes bipartisan work on a range of pollution and parks issues, Gipp said.

He added that the department, needs more money for the parks and some other projects. But he said it is up to the Legislature if a sales-tax increase is the way to finance that. Gipp said a park user fee would be hard to enforce with multiple entrances to state parks.

Gipp, who as a lawmaker supported a package of livestock regulations largely written by the industry, said he continues to oppose local zoning of agricultural operations. Varying regulations from county to county would hurt the industry, he said.

Here is the full release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 31, 2012

Contact: Governor’s Office 515-725-3523

Branstad names Chuck Gipp as Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Branstad this week named Chuck Gipp as the new Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Gipp replaces Roger Lande, who resigned the position last week.

“I am excited to name Chuck Gipp as the new director of this important department,” said Branstad of Gipp, who most recently was serving as the Deputy Director of the DNR. “Chuck has an outstanding record of service to this state, and I am pleased he will use his knowledge and talents at the DNR. Iowa has some of the most beautiful scenery, amazing waterways and fertile land in the country, and Chuck shares my belief in protecting these precious resources.

“Chuck is an avid outdoorsman, and fully understands the critical role DNR plays in the success of our hunting and fishing industries, and he will work with their advocates to further promote this important part of the Iowa economy,” Branstad concluded.

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds added, “Chuck Gipp brings a wealth of experience to this position, and he will use his passion for Iowa’s natural resources as his guide in serving Iowans. Chuck’s hands-on, proactive approach will serve the department well.”

Gipp, 64, was a long-time member of the Iowa House of Representatives from Decorah, first elected in 1990. Gipp rose to serve as House Majority Leader in 2003. He served in the House until 2008, when he did not seek re-election.

“This is a great opportunity to serve the people of Iowa and protect our natural resources with common sense solutions,” said Gipp. “I look forward to working with the people of Iowa as we together promote and protect Iowa’s land, lakes, waterways and air.”

Gipp and his wife, Renae, reside in Decorah. They have two grown children.