Assistant Fisheries Supervisor
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Ortonville Office
“This isn’t the river that it was when I was 10 years old and we took the poles down to the Minnesota River at New Ulm to fish,” relates Chris Domeier, assistant fisheries supervisor in the MN DNR Ortonville office. Chris left his family farm in 1982 to pursue a job in fisheries and ended upstream working on lakes and rivers in the basin. Along the way he worked for the Minnesota Conservation Corps and did fish research in Voyagers National Park, and received a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Minnesota in Duluth.
In his current position Chris considers himself a paid fisherman, looking out for the resource and making sure there is critical habitat for the fish. “We do habitat work that can improve fishing,” says Domeier. “We try to make sure the work we are doing in some way is going to provide some benefit to people out there with a fishing pole.” Projects Chris has been involved with include dam removals like the old mill structure in Appleton on the Pomme de Terre River. After a set of rapids replaced this barrier, catfish both large and small moved upstream for the first time in almost a hundred years. This followed by the removal of the Lac qui Parle Dam in Dawson and the same thing will happen to Montevideo’s Chippewa River Dam in the summer of 2012.
Chris spends a lot of his time educating people on the importance of a strong fishery and the dangers of lowhead dams. Not because he particularly enjoys public presentations but because Chris recognizes that he works for the people of Minnesota. For this effort the nonprofit organization Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) gave Chris the “Good Government Award” and asked him speak at their annual meeting. To make sure the public can enjoy a healthy and vibrant fish population, Chris works to remove additional barriers like the Minnesota Falls Dam, provide recreational opportunities including fishing priers and keeps citizens informed on important issues involving fish and water quality.
“As I look at how we can make the [Minnesota] river better,” says Chris Domeier “it comes down to land use and changing the hydrograph. We need to get that hydrograph back to where it is more natural. We need to start storing more of our water back on the landscape. One of the things I really like is the idea of perennial crops. Hopefully as society moves down the trail ever so slowly we can move into more of perennial cropping systems. Hopefully we can get back into more diversified farms. It is amazing how clean the water is that flows from perennial farms or from a WMA [Wildlife Management Area].”
See the Fish section for videos featuring Chris Domeier.
What are the top water quality problems in the Minnesota River Basin (Chris Domeier)? (02:13 minutes)
What concerns you with invasive species in the Minnesota River Basin (Chris Domeier)? (02:13 minutes)
What is the coolest creature you have ever seen in the Minnesota River Basin (Chris Domeier)? (2:41 minutes)
What is your favorite experience related to the Minnesota River Basin (Chris Domeier)? (2:56 minutues)