"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Who Will Fill Mike Kiley's Big Shoes?
Copyright © 2005 by Bill Scifres

Fall, and the upcoming hunting seasons, combine to create a huge point of interest for Hoosier outdoors folks, but beneath the flow of the obvious a huge question looms in the minds of conservationists and environmentalists of the state.

Who will replace Mike Kiley, the Marion attorney who served the Natural Resources Commission for 29 years, the last 15 years as its chairman?

In conducting an informal poll of conservationists of the state, we seem to have learned (in the opinion of those close to the situation) that there are five current members of the Commission who would be qualified to fill Kiley’s big shoes.

They are Rick Cockrum, vice-chairman of the Commission; Jane Ann Stautz, a member of the panel since the first administration of governor Evan Bayh; D. Raymond “Ray” McCormick, a staunch backer of conservation practices for many years, and chairman of the Advisory Council for Resource Regulation; Dr. Damian Schmelz, representative of the Indiana Academy of Science;, and Richard Mangus, who served in the House of Representatives for many years, while giving strong support for issues involving natural and wildlife resources.

My sources see Cockrum as heir presumptive to the Commission chair, but it is not known if he is a candidate (attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful). Cockrum has been a member of the panel since 1998.

Mrs. Stautz, an attorney, is a firm backer of issues involving wise use of natural and wildlife resources, and works in the field of environmental law. “I would welcome the opportunity” to chair the panel, she says.

McCormick, one of the state’s best known conservationist with vast knowledge of good farming practices, has served on the Advisory Council for Resource Regulation since 1990, and chairs that panel. He, too, would welcome the opportunity to chair the panel

We have been unable to contact Dr. Schmelz but he has indicated that he is not a candidate. Being a recent appointee, Mangus (by phone) was noncommittal, reserving his answer to that question for later.

The Indiana law that governs appointments (membership qualifications) to the Commission reads as follows:

“IC 14-10-1-1 Establishment and members of commission
“Sec. 1. The natural resources commission is established. The commission consists of twelve (12) members as follows:
“(1) The commissioner of the Indiana department of transportation or the commissioner's designee.
“(2) The commissioner of the department of environmental management or the commissioner's designated deputy.
“(3) The director of the department of commerce or the director's designated deputy.
“(4) The director of the department.
“(5) The chairman of the advisory council for the bureau of water and resource regulation.
“(6) The chairman of the advisory council for the bureau of lands and cultural resources.
“(7) The president of the Indiana academy of science or the president's designee.
“(8) Five (5) citizen members appointed by the governor, at least two (2) of whom must have knowledge, experience, or education in the environment or in natural resource conservation. Not more than three (3) citizen members may be one the same political party.”

Although the new chairman of the Commission logically would seem to be one of the triumvirates of Cockrum, Mrs. Stautz, and Mangus, there is one vacant seat. I am told that the governor could appoint an outside person to fill that chair. And, because the chairman serves at the pleasure of the governor, a new appointee could conceivably become the new chairman.

It is interesting to note that the three chairmen of the Commission since its formation in 1965 have all been Democrats. All were appointed to the panel by Republican governors.

A successor to Kiley will is scheduled to be elected at the January meeting of the Commission.  

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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