MARQUETTE - Gov. Rick Snyder has named J.R. Richardson of Ontonagon chairman of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission.
The announcement was made Thursday. Richardson, who was appointed to the panel in April 2007 by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, was reappointed by Snyder last year to a term expiring Dec. 31, 2014. His new chairman appointment came as a surprise.
"The term is at the discretion of the governor," Richardson said Friday. "I'm very, very, very proud to serve in any way I can."
The NRC is a seven-member rulemaking body for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, whose members are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Richardson replaces Commissioner Tim Nichols of Cadillac who has resigned as NRC chairman, but will continue to serve the commission as a full member.
"The NRC's work is vital to the health and sustainability of our state's natural resources, as well as to ensuring broad public access to them," Snyder said in a news release. "I thank Tim for his insight and commitment in soundly leading this commission. I have full faith in J.R.'s ability and vision to protect Michigan's special places and thoughtfully nurture the state's strong natural resources-based economy."
Richardson is a life-long resident of the Upper Peninsula. His 31-year career in the paper industry ended in December 2007. He began as a union coal handler, paper machine laborer and recovery boiler operator in 1976 with Champion International Corporation. Throughout his career, Richardson worked as a process engineer, engineering supervisor, production supervisor and quality and environmental manager. Richardson ended his paper industry career as an operations and technical manager for Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation. Since December 2007, he has worked for the New York-based TRAXYS Corporation, which creates renewable energy alternatives for producing power in the U.P.
A graduate of Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Richardson holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and has completed course work toward a business engineering administration degree.
On his continued work with the NRC, Richardson said, "We are looking forward to continuing our strong partnerships with conservation groups, the Legislature, federal, state and local elected officials and tribal governments.
"With these organizations partnering with our department, we can positively and progressively continue moving the department and our resources forward."
Richardson received the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Partner in Conservation Award in 1993 based on his work with local sportsmen's groups on habitat rehabilitation and fish plants, along with managing an award-winning wastewater treatment plant in Michigan.
His community involvement includes service on the Ontonagon Village Council and EDC from 1996 to 2004 and serving as a member of the volunteer fire department, Marina Commission, and as a hazardous materials certified technician. Richardson also is a member of the Rotary Club, Whitetails Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, Ontonagon Valley Sportsmen's Club, and the Lake Superior Special Designation Task Force, president of the Upper Peninsula Sports Fishermen's Association, and chair of the Solid Waste Planning Committee.
For the timber industry, he has served on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's Task Force for Best Management Practices, is a certified storm water inspector and a C-3a certified wastewater treatment plant operator in the state.
With the Richardson's appointment in 2007, he and Munising's John Madigan serving concurrently marked the first time the NRC had two members serving on the panel from the Upper Peninsula in at least 40 years.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is email@example.com