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Ask Mr. Answer Person: "Why is the Decorah Fish Hatchery being named after Chuck Gipp?"

Posted: Tue, Jun 12, 2018 3:42 PM

(John e-mails: "Dear Mr. Answer Person: Last week the Decorah Community was informed that the Decorah Fish Hatchery would be renamed the 'Chuck Gipp Decorah Fish Hatchery.' With all due respect to Chuck Gipp, there was no explanation as to the rationale behind this name change provided to Decorah or to the Iowa taxpayers that fund the DNR.  Given that the name change not only sounds 'clunky,' but also fundamentally changes the direction of attention from the 'Decorah Fish Hatchery,' stakeholders and supporters of the Decorah Fish Hatchery deserve an explanation.  E.g., did the Gipp family make a large donation to the Hatchery?  Or is there a special connection between Chuck Gipp and the Decorah Hatchery?  Or was this designation to honor Chuck Gipp for his DNR directorship? Another reason? Specifically, what person, entity, and process made this decision, and what are the specific criteria by which a state fish hatchery can be renamed for a specific individual?  If the bar is only based on a monetary donation, this concept seems inappropriate. If the bar is based on a person's contributions to the state of Iowa DNR's mission 'To conserve and enhance our natural resources in cooperation with individuals and organizations to improve the quality of life in Iowa and ensure a legacy for future generations,' there is another retired Iowa DNR director from Winneshiek County who arguably has had at least as much or greater impact on land and water conservation in Iowa, including serving as a key author on the award-winning 1987 Groundwater Protection Act, legislation that plays a key role in helping to protect the groundwater that feeds Siewers Springs--and the Decorah Hatchery.  If the Decorah Hatchery must be renamed (a move I am not in support of), why wasn't Paul Johnson considered?  Please investigate and share the answers to these related questions." 

Mr. Answer Person says: "The Natural Resources Commission voted on May 16th to rename the DNR's Decorah Fish Hatchery after retired director Chuck Gipp.  The Natural Resource Commission consists of seven citizens, appointed to six year terms by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.  The Commission works with the Conservation and Recreation Division of the Department of Natural Resources.

'The Natural Resource Commissioners are pleased to name the Decorah Fish Hatchery the Chuck Gipp Decorah Fish Hatchery to recognize and honor Chuck for his many years of public service to Iowans and for his terrific leadership in protecting Iowa's natural resources,'  stated Natural Resources Commission Chair Margo Underwood.  Acting DNR Director Bruce Trautman said, "Gipp made a significant, positive impact on the DNR and this state.  The Department and this fish hatchery are very near and dear to Chuck, and this will be a lasting legacy of the work he did to improve the DNR.'

Chuck Gipp served as the DNR director for six years before retiring May 1st. Prior to serving as director, Gipp was the deputy director of the DNR and also served as director of the Division of Soil Conservation for three years. Gipp retired as director of the DNR on May 1st.

A ceremony will be held at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday to mark the Fish Hatchery's new name."