West Slope governments want more voice on wolf reintroduction
Garfield commissioners sign onto letter asking for advisory group
A coalition of northwest Colorado local governments want more say-so in the plan to reintroduce wolves in the state, especially as it relates to the Western Slope.
Garfield County commissioners on Monday voted 3-0 to sign onto a letter from Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado seeking the formation of a Local Government Advisory Group.
AGNC is a local government group including Garfield, Rio Blanco, Mesa, Moffat, Grand, Delta and Montrose counties. Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson is the county’s representative on the organization board.
“Where is this reintroduction going to happen,” he asked rhetorically in requesting the board sign the letter. “It’s going to be out here on the Western Slope.
“This is just bad for Colorado, and it’s not a smart move,” he said.
But the tables are stacked in favor of Front Range and especially Denver and Boulder metro-area interests, Samson contends.
The wolf reintroduction effort, in the form of Proposition 114 on the November 2020 ballot, was approved by state voters by a narrow 51% margin. The majority of support came from the more-populated counties in the state, while most western counties were opposed, Samson pointed out.
The recommended Local Government Advisory Board would be in addition to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission’s planned Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG).
With only a handful of the 12 to 16 positions on the SAG representing areas where wolves are likely to be reintroduced, AGNC isn’t just crying wolf. It wants better representation from the actual areas that are to be impacted, Samson said.
“AGNC believes that representation in the SAG is critically limited when compared to the locus and gravity of the wolf recovery plan,” the letter addressed to the CPW states.
A separate advisory group made up of county elected officials would “improve collaboration, ensure constructive dialogue, preserve the integrity of the process and provide thoughtful advice,” the letter states.
Among the key concerns for rural counties where wolves are likely to be added to the landscape is the potential impact to livestock and ranching. However, the impacts go beyond that to potentially impact other wildlife recovery efforts, including moose and the greater sage grouse, AGNC also notes in the letter.
In a related move Monday, the Garfield commissioners also forwarded a letter to the CPW Commission opposing the appointment of James Tutchton due to his positions on hunting and legal representation of various anti-hunting groups.
“Tutchton’s career has been defined by prioritizing personal politics over science and fighting against the recreational needs of Colorado,” the commissioners’ letter states.
According to the CPW website, Tutchton was already appointed for a four-year term set to expire in July 2024.
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