URBANDALE --- Governor-elect Terry Branstad announced Monday that Muscatine attorney Roger Lande is his choice to serve as head of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in his new administration.
Branstad and running mate Kim Reynolds --- Iowa's next lieutenant governor --- also announced that Brenna Findley, 34, a Dexter Republican who unsuccessfully challenged Democratic incumbent Tom Miller for Iowa attorney general in last month's election, will serve as legal counsel in the Branstad/Reynolds administration.
Lande, who is a partner at Stanley, Lande & Hunter -- a law firm with offices in Muscatine and Davenport -- is a former chairman of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) and currently serves as Honorary Consul of Canada to Iowa.
"I can think of no one better to be a steward of Iowa's precious natural resources than Roger Lande," Branstad said in a statement. "Roger and his family have long been champions of conservation of Iowa's rivers, woodlands, greenways, prairies and trails and I am confident that Roger will excel in his new role as head of Iowa Department of Natural Resources."
Branstad said Lande has been active in protecting and preserving Iowa's natural resources as a hunter and fisherman. He also has been involved in various organizations, such as the Izaak Walton League, which works to protect the soil, air, woods and water. His wife, Sarah, serves as a board member of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.
The DNR is responsible for caring for Iowa's state parks, forests and other resources to ensure that future generations of Iowans are able to enjoy those same resources. The agency also oversees various conservation and environmental protection functions.
"I am honored to have been chosen by Gov. Branstad to head a department whose causes are near, and dear to my heart," Lande said in a statement. "I look forward to working with various conservation organizations and the people of Iowa to continue to preserve and protect Iowa's precious natural resources we have come to know and love."
Branstad has indicated that he will seek legislative action to sunset current state rules and regulations and embark on an effort to remove barriers to development within the state's regulatory structure. He also wants new rules and regulations to carry with them an impact statement on how they will impact Iowa's employment situation.
Verne Tigges of Carroll, board president of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI), raised questions about Branstad naming a DNR director who has ties to a law firm that represents corporate agribusiness groups like Monsanto and the Iowa Farm Bureau. CCI members also have concerns that Lande is a former ABI chairman, noting the business lobby group recently released a legislative agenda calling for de-regulation of the factory farm industry.
"Lande must prove that his career work as an industry insider won't prevent him from fulfilling the DNR's primary mission to protect the environment," Tigges said in a statement.
"Iowa CCI members want to meet with Lande and will push him to support our legislative agenda of local control and stronger permitting standards for factory farms," he said. "The DNR is also going through rule-making now to start issuing Clean Water Act permits for factory farms. This will be his first test -- to push for strong rules that ensure every factory farm in Iowa gets a permit."
Lande, a Lake Mills native, received his bachelor of arts from The University of Iowa and graduated with distinction from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1961. Lande served on the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors from 1990-2005, and served on the state Board of Regents from 1996-2001. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Muscatine Beyond 2000 and Musser Public Library and is a member of Rotary International and Thirty-Three Club.
Findley graduated from Drake University with bachelor or art's degree in political science and history and a minor in Russian and earned a her law degree at the University of Chicago Law School, where she served as symposium editor of the school's law journal.
"Brenna Findley has a talented, sharp legal mind and her knowledge and work ethic will be valued in my administration," Branstad said. "Her work in private sector, combined with her extensive governmental experience at the federal level, provides a strong framework to serve as legal counsel in my administration."
Upon graduation, Findley currently works in a private law practice and previously served as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, in Iowa's 5th congressional district.