When Governor-elect Mike DeWine is sworn into office next month, a new director will take over the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Her name is Mary Mertz.
In her first term as ODNR chief, Mertz says she and DeWine want to build the agency.
“Bring the experts, give them every opportunity, build the agency, and do some great things,” said Mertz.
She plans to take on issues involving Lake Erie.
“Clearly there’s a few big issues that have recently been controversial that we will tackle,” said Mertz, citing Lake Erie. “Lake Erie’s always been very important to Mike DeWine, so making sure we protect Lake Erie in a responsible way.”
Mary Mertz [Ohio Attorney General website]
Mertz adds that as a sailing enthusiast, she’s looking forward to engaging with the boating community.
Mertz says she’s spent the last few weeks meeting with staff from ODNR, including members of the wildlife division and parks and watercraft division. In her new role, Mertz would like to make Ohio’s parks more accessible for the disabled community but also for communities that may not have visited a park before.
“How can we be really creative in making those opportunities even more available, and getting people to enjoy them?” said Mertz. “This is really a quality of life agency.”
ODNR manages 74 state parks and issues all hunting and fishing licenses statewide.
Mertz currently serves as First Assistant Attorney General for DeWine, but in the 1990s, she served as a department of natural resources liaison for then-Governor George Voinovich.
DeWine and his new staff will be inaugurated January 14.