Former DNR law enforcement chief honored

Manistee’s DNR vessel named after Chief Herbert Burns

MANISTEE — A retired Department of Natural Resources law enforcement leader was honored in Manistee on Wednesday at a ceremony consisting of family, friends and former co-workers.

Retired DNR law enforcement division chief Herbert Burns, a 15-year leader of the division, was honored at a vessel naming ceremony at the U.S. Coast Guard Station Manistee. Friends and family attended to watch Manistee’s new DNR response vessel be named the Herbert Burns.

Herbert Burns (center), former Michigan Department of Natural Resources law enforcement chief, was honored at a vessel naming ceremony on Wednesday in Manistee. (Eric Sagonowsky/News Advocate)

Herbert Burns (center), former Michigan Department of Natural Resources law enforcement chief, was honored at a vessel naming ceremony on Wednesday in Manistee. (Eric Sagonowsky/News Advocate)

“The tradition of naming boats is over 1,000 years (old),” said Lt. Dave Shaw. “It goes back to when, we know undoubtedly, when you go out on the waters, whether it was (modern) officers or seamen years ago, it carries some inherent risks. The history behind naming boats was to basically honor the gods (and) put a name of a god thousands of years ago to protect the seamen when they were out on their voyages.

“To bring family, officers, friends, retired officers and outside agencies together for a dedication for a very honored recipient,” Shaw continued. “I just want to say thank you to all of you for being here.”

Burns was a 34-year veteran of Michigan conservation efforts, beginning his career in 1966 at the Department of Conservation. In 1970, he was appointed to be an area law supervisor in the Grand Rapids district with responsibilities in Muskegon and Ottawa counties.

In 1984, Burns was named an assistant law enforcement chief, supervising field operations, staff enforcement operations, tort investigations and trainings. He was appointed the DNR’s law enforcement chief in 1985 and retired in 2000.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Sgt. Carla Soper (left) presents former law enforcement chief Herbert Burns with a picture of the department's new vessel which was named after Burns.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Sgt. Carla Soper (left) presents former law enforcement chief Herbert Burns with a picture of the department’s new vessel which was named after Burns.

“During his tenure, he provided 34 dedicated years to protecting and serving the citizens and the natural resources of this great state,” said current DNR law enforcement chief Gary Hagler. “Chief Burns took command of LAD in 1985 at a time when conservation officer ranks were shrinking. Increasing the number of conservation officers in the state was a major priority of Chief Herbert Burns’, and through his tenure, he was successful in increasing the number of COs across the state. He did an excellent job.”

In 1995, Burns received special recognition from the Women Police of Michigan Board of Directors citing that he had been instrumental in the promotion of women in the DNR law enforcement division.

“We are all honored to be present here today to showcase this outstanding DNR patrol boat that will forever and proudly bear the name Herbert Burns. Herb, thank you for all that you have done for the citizens and the natural resources of the state, and also all that you have done for the department and the law enforcement division over your many years of honorable and dedicated service. Thank you personally from me for paving the way and making my life easier by setting a solid foundation for all the chiefs that will follow.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources hosted a vessel naming ceremony on Wednesday honoring former law enforcement division chief Herbert Burns. Burns (center) was joined by family, friends and former co-workers.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources hosted a vessel naming ceremony on Wednesday honoring former law enforcement division chief Herbert Burns. Burns (center) was joined by family, friends and former co-workers.

During the ceremony, DNR Sgt. Carla Soper provided statistics about the new boat and why Manistee was selected for its home port. She said that Manistee is one of the busiest ports on the Lake Michigan shoreline.

There are nearly 36,000 private fishing excursions annually, she said, 1,000 charter trips annually and 57 licensed charter boats in Manistee County that the DNR must inspect.

“Fed by the Big Manistee and Little Manistee rivers, the waters off of Manistee are some of the richest fishing waters in Michigan. In addition to the natural reproduction provided in these rivers, chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, brown trout and lake trout are also stocked here and are avidly pursued by anglers 12 months a year. In particular, the Port of Manistee is world renowned for its chinook salmon fishery.”

In 2013, records indicate that nearly 17,000 chinook salmon were caught by anglers out of Manistee. Additionally, 3,732 coho salmon, 2,546 steelhead, 1,243 lake trout and 772 brown trout were caught.

The boat is a 25 foot vessel with twin 225 horsepower outboard motors, purchased with port security funding and docked at the Manistee Municipal Marina.

“The boat has been an outstanding asset to our department and it definitely helps our officers here locally do their jobs,” Soper said.

Following the ceremony, the DNR presented a photograph of the vessel to Burns. He and his family were then given a ride on the boat.

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Posted by Eric Sagonowsky

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