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Dru Buntin picked for Natural Resources director

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Dru Buntin was named the new director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Wednesday after serving in the role since June. 

Buntin replaces former Director Carol Comer, who died in June after a battle with cancer. 

“Dru is an experienced and trusted leader within DNR and across state government. He worked closely with Director Comer during her illness and stepped up to be a steady hand of leadership upon her passing,” Gov. Mike Parson said. “We are confident in Dru’s abilities to lead DNR, and we look forward to seeing him implement his vision and ideas.”

Buntin joined the agency as its deputy director in 2017; he also served as deputy director of the Missouri DNR from 2009-2012. He is the former executive director of the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association where he served for four years. 

At DNR, Buntin has honed in on river-related issues, including drought relief and flood recovery. He also served as the director of government affairs and deputy director for policy and chief of water resources at the department. 

“I am honored and humbled to be appointed by Gov. Parson to serve as the new director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources,” Buntin said. “Five generations of my family have lived in Missouri, and I love this state. We have a great team at DNR, and I’m excited about what we can accomplish working together with communities across Missouri”

Buntin is a graduate of the University of Missouri. 

Comer took the helm of the department in 2017 after working in various capacities for Indiana’s Department of Environment Management under then-Gov. Mike Pence. She was once considered a potential Environmental Protection Agency administrator under former President Donald Trump. 

Parson said she “left big shoes to fill.” Buntin promised to honor her legacy as he steps into the role.

When Comer first publicly revealed her cancer diagnosis in 2019, she praised her staff, the Governor’s Office, and other Cabinet officials and said she was “being well cared for.” 

DNR focuses on protecting the state’s air, water, land, and mineral resources while promoting recreational and educational opportunities. The department also has an interest in energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly business practices and policies. 

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.