The Michigan Department of Natural Resources -following a long-standing tradition of its law enforcement division- named a new 27-foot patrol boat for Frank Opolka, a former deputy director of the agency, whose career spanned more than three decades.
We think this is a great way to honor Opolka, a man who provided a fine career of service to the people of the state of Michigan. We applaud the DNR and Opolka, one of the "real guys" who has worked for the agency.
Over his tenure, which began in 1964 when he was hired as a conservation officer, Opolka was involved in several important issues, resulting in improvements for the agency.
Among them, he developed the legislation that created and implemented the Report All Poaching (RAP) program; implemented the current ranking system for the DNR's Law Enforcement Division and leading negotiations with tribal representatives for off-reservation hunting and fishing treaty rights.
While serving as a conservation officer, he worked in Crystal Falls and Escanaba for seven years before transferring to Lansing, where he served as administrative assistant to the chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Division. While working full-time and raising a family with his wife, Barbara, Opolka earned a master's degree in resource development from Michigan State University.
In 1978, Opolka was promoted to chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Division, a capacity in which he served until 1985, when he returned to the U.P. as the DNR's deputy director. He retired from the DNR in 1995. Opolka would later serve one more year in this position at the request of former DNR Director K.L. Cool. He also went on to serve for six years on the Michigan Waterways Commission, including one year as chair in 2004.
As deputy director, Opolka garnered a reputation as a respectful leader who would solicit input from DNR staff working at the field level managing natural resources. He made himself available to the public and regularly met with county leaders in all 15 U.P. counties to keep them abreast of DNR issues in their counties.
Congratulations, Frank, on your latest honor, well-deserved.