Representative Willard Munger
Minnesota House of Representatives
Duluth, Minnesota

Representative Willard Munger has been a leader of environmental protection in Minnesota since he was elected to its legislature in 1954. As a newly-elected representative of Duluth, he began with a series of initiatives to reduce water pollution in Lake Superior. Shortly thereafter, he turned his attention to pesticides, including DDT. Over the years, he authored dozens of groundbreaking environmental bills.

In 1991, as chair of the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, he led the effort to increase protection of the state’s wetlands beyond that provided by federal law, resulting in passage of the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act. Now a statewide law administered locally, it requires no net loss of wetlands for even very small discharge and drainage activities. Rep. Munger also played a key role in passing a constitutional amendment creating the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, which pays for long-term environmental research, protection, and enhancement. The Trust Fund has been used to build Minnesota’s extensive parks and trails system and to restore wetland and riparian ecosystems, including 150 miles of riparian corridor along rivers flowing into his beloved Lake Superior.

Rep. Munger was influenced by his grandfather who told him, “If you want to preserve a livable environment for future have to do something, and to do something, you have to run for office!” Over the years, Rep. Munger has passed this advice and the lessons of environmental lawmaking along to many others.

— Mark Nelson, Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources; Cheryl Miller, National Audubon Society, St. Paul, Minnesota