Wildlife Commission meetings go live | AspenTimes.com

Wildlife Commission meetings go live

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GUNNISON, Colo. ” Unlike most regulatory boards, members of the Colorado Wildlife Commission travel the state to conduct their business.

But now, Colorado residents can listen to the commission’s deliberations from the comfort of their own home. Earlier this month, the commissioners, who oversee the Colorado Division of Wildlife, broadcast their deliberations ” in audio ” over the Internet for the first time.

The state Legislature has been webcasting its proceedings for years, noted DOW spokesman Randy Hampton, but it’s more difficult for the Colorado Wildlife Commission to do so because the group meets around the state.

“If the meetings were always held at our offices in Denver, we probably would have been on the Internet years ago,” Hampton said. ” The challenge is that those meetings move around and sometimes you end up with an issue at a meeting in Lamar that may affect people in Craig.”

The ability for Coloradans to listen in when the commission meets at a locale that is too far away for an interested resident to attend in person is “a big advantage,” Hampton said.

During the inaugural webcast, from a meeting in Gunnison, commissioners agreed to a surface-use agreement with Orion Energy Partners that will allow the company to begin drilling operations in Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area near New Castle this summer. The commissioners voted to support the agreement because the DOW does not own the surface minerals below the wildlife refuge’s surface. The agreement gave the DOW some leverage to minimize wildlife disturbances in the area.

The next meeting will take place on July 10 in Durango and streaming audio will be made available then as well, according to the DOW.

Dorothea Farris, a member of the Colorado Wildlife Commission and a Pitkin County commissioner, said the other commissioners were thinking about the impact of their words during the last meeting because it was broadcast on the Internet.

“For many of them, I think it was the first time they were recorded and talking into a (microphone) knowing many people could be listening,” Farris said. “But everyone seemed to like it.”

Despite the initial hesitation from some commissioners, Farris said the webcasting of commission meetings will be a benefit for people interested in what they do.

“If we can make it easier for people to participate, that’s good,” she said.