Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh announced this week that Bill O’Neill has been named natural resources deputy for the agency, effective Sunday, Aug. 13. Current natural resources deputy, Bill Moritz, is leaving his position with the DNR to work for the Wildlife Management Institute.
O’Neill has more than 31 years of experience with the DNR. Since January 2012, he has served as chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division, except for a brief stint in early 2016 when – on an interim basis – he took on the role of resources deputy while Moritz filled in as DNR director during Creagh’s assignment at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
While with the DNR, O’Neill has taken on many roles, including Michigan Civilian Conservation Corps camp director, land manager for several forest management units, district manager for the Eastern Lower Peninsula District and FRD field coordinator, administering the largest state forest system in the continental United States. Each position offered opportunities to collaborate across department divisions, as well as the chance to build relationships with external partners and organizations.
As DNR natural resources deputy, O’Neill will administer the divisions that oversee Michigan’s wildlife and fisheries, state forests and state parks, minerals and law enforcement.
“Bill Moritz has been a thoughtful and tireless advocate for Michigan’s natural resources and the people who enjoy and appreciate them,” said Creagh. “I have full confidence in Bill O’Neill’s ability to step in as the department’s natural resources deputy. Bill has decades of valuable experience to draw upon, and I know he will provide the right leadership to advance the management of Michigan’s world-class natural and cultural resources.”
O’Neill currently serves as president of the Northeast Area Association of State Foresters, is on the National Association of State Foresters executive board, and is a Department of Forestry board member at both Michigan Technological University and Michigan State University. His past affiliations include the Wildlife Society (member), the Montmorency Soil and Water Conservation District (board of directors) and the Huron Shores Writing Institute (board of directors).
“Our state is home to some of the most magnificent woods, water and wildlife found anywhere in the world, and I am honored to take on this role for the Department of Natural Resources and for the people of Michigan,” O’Neill said. “As state forester and chief of the DNR Forest Resources Division, I was committed to collaboration and doing what’s best for the sustainable management of our natural resources. I look forward to working with our resource divisions and partners in continuing that commitment.”
O’Neill earned a bachelor’s degree in forestry and a master’s degree in forestry with an emphasis on business management from Michigan State University.
Until a permanent replacement is named as chief of the Forest Resources Division, DNR Regional Initiatives Deputy Marc Miller will serve as the division’s interim chief, in addition to his other duties.